March 8, 2018

Arsenal Tech Girls Meeting with Michelle Obama

ONCE IN A LIFETIME  — Four scholars from Arsenal Technical High School were chosen to meet Michelle Obama during her recent visit to Indianapolis. The students are (from left to right): Tania P., Roncresha L., Jade H., and Madison M.

When Michelle Obama visited Indianapolis on Feb. 13, she spoke to a sold-out crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse sharing her life story — from details about her childhood and her educational journey (including law school) to her extensive community work and time spent in the White House as the first lady of the United States.

“Put the work in. I guess that’s my advice to young people; put the work in and don’t stop yourself before you even try,” said the former first lady.

Nearly 300 students from Indianapolis Public Schools were in that crowd and heard those words. But, four young ladies from Arsenal Technical High School got to meet Mrs. Obama face-to-face and hear so much more.

Tania P., Jade H., Roncresha L. and Madison M. received backstage access to meet the former first lady in what all of these students agree was the meeting of a lifetime.

“I walked up to her and asked, Can I give you a hug? She said yes and I gave her the biggest hug. It was awesome!” said Madison M., a senior at Tech.

The personal time spent with Obama was meaningful and memorable.

“It wasn’t rushed; she took her time to talk with us and answer our questions,” said Tania, also a senior. “Her title of first lady wasn’t even there anymore. It was just like talking to any other person. She was so warm and it made all of my nerves go away.”

Each of these young ladies was chosen for the personal visit because they’re top-notch students and leaders in their class. They all have ambitious plans for the future and are determined to achieve their goals.

Roncresha is a freshman at Tech studying nursing in the school’s Career Technology Center. She plans to earn her certification as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) before she graduates from high school. Then, she plans to work her way through college and medical school as a CNA on her way to becoming a pediatrician.

“She told us we might have doubts about ourselves and our goals, but if we focus on those doubts we won’t get anywhere,” said Roncresha. “She encouraged us to think positive thoughts and make sure we keep building each other up as women.”

“She said, ‘You’re going to get there,’” said Jade, a junior. “She told us to keep focusing on what we’re doing because as student leaders of our school, we’re obviously doing something right.”

Jade is studying culinary arts and wants to combine that training with a college degree in business management. She plans to own a bakery.

“(Obama) explained her childhood and said even though she came from a working-class neighborhood in Chicago, where her family didn’t have a lot of extras, she still made it to the White House,” said Jade.

Tania, who is studying in the school’s Certified Pharmacy Tech program, plans to attend Purdue University to study brain and behavioral science. She is not afraid to share her opinion and fight for change. That was a sentiment Obama strongly encouraged.

“Make sure you stay at the table and put in your own perspective, even if others don’t agree or like it because you’re a woman,” the former first lady told Tania. “It’s important that you persevere.”

The girls spent most of their time with Obama answering her questions and listening to her advice. Madison, however, did get in one of the several questions the girls asked.

“I asked her how tall she is. She said 5’11,” said Madison, with a chuckle.

Madison is also tall and athletic, like the former first lady. A student in Tech’s Math and Science program, Madison plays basketball and plans to attend Johnson and Wales University to study sports, entertainment and event management.

Admittedly a quiet person, Madison said the former first lady provided advice that she’s already planning to use.

“She not only personally encouraged us to pursue our education and goals, but to be confident, persistent and use our voice,” said Madison. “I plan to be more vocal.”

The girls also say Obama inspired them to push past stereotypes, aim higher and stand together as women.

After this meeting, they all say they’re more determined now than ever to succeed.