Former First Lady Michelle Obama, alongside celebrities like Conan O’Brien and John Legend, led the sixth-annual College Signing Day at the University of California Los Angeles campus last Wednesday. The event was hosted by the university and Reach Higher, Michelle Obama’s initiative encouraging students to pursue postsecondary education. Reach Higher has been hosting College Signing Day programs since 2015, focusing on high school students from underrepresented and first-generation backgrounds who are choosing to further their education.
“I want you all to know, you are about to make the best investment you can possibly make,” Obama told the crowd. “In order to be here today, you kept on reaching higher for yourselves and for your future. You told all those doubters that they’d better make room. That is what this is all about, making people make room for you where you belong.” Celebrities, athletes, and other performers added their perspectives on the importance of college and celebrated the students’ achievements.
This year’s event didn’t just take place at the Los Angeles campus; it was held simultaneously at the University of California’s other eight campuses across the state, drawing 10,000 student attendees. In hosting the celebration, the university system noted that 41 percent of its students are the first in their families to attend college.
Reach Higher officials, meanwhile, said this year’s College Signing Day also included satellite events on more than 3,000 campuses nationwide. The celebration also has an active social media presence: according to the The Los Angeles Times, last year’s events “inspired 1.24 billion social media posts tagged #collegesigningday in just 24 hours.”