"I was young, black, and female," the former first lady says about her past insecurities. "Of course I doubted myself"

By Sam Gillette
September 18, 2018 01:55 PM
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Michelle Obama is no longer the first lady, but that didn’t stopped her from gathering a bunch of stars to promote one of her favorite causes from her time in the White House — encouraging kids to go to college.

On Tuesday, Obama released an advertisement promoting higher education which features celebs like Ciara, Karlie Kloss, Kelly Rowland, Nick Cannon, Jussie Smollett and others. In the video, titled “Worth It,” the stars share personal stories about the struggles they faced before reaching success. The ad is part of Obama’s Reach Higher initiative, which she began as first lady.

“When I was younger, thinking about going to college sometimes gave me a pit in my stomach,” Obama writes on Instagram. “I came from a working-class family on the South Side of Chicago. I was young, black, and female. Of course I doubted myself.

Michelle Obama
| Credit: Michelle Obama/Instagram

“But I never let those fears get the best of me, in large part because I learned to ask for help when I needed it. I found friends and mentors who helped me realize I belonged,” she continues. “And if I failed — which I did, a lot — I learned to pick myself up and keep going. That’s how I ended up with the education I needed to go on to become a lawyer, a nonprofit leader, a hospital executive, and first lady of the United States.”

In the video, the other stars chime in to reveal their own past insecurities.

“My biggest curveball was probably self-doubt,” Rowland admits.

“There’s all those insecurities of, are you good enough?” says Smollett.

Karlie Kloss is next, admitting, “I thought I was too tall. I thought I wasn’t good enough. I was stuck in my own head.”

The stars continued by outlining how unprepared and unsure they felt when starting out on their own, with Obama admitting she didn’t even know what sports like squash or field hockey were.

“You have to keep telling yourself, ‘I am worthy,’” adds Rowland. “I am ready, I am victorious, I am great.”

Says Kloss, “I learned to love the things that made me different.”

In her Instagram post, Obama outlined the importance of college and emphasized that there’s a fit for everyone.

Kelly Rowland
| Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty

“No matter what kind of life you want to build for yourself, you’ve already got the raw materials inside,” she writes. “But to make your dreams a reality, you’ve also got to continue your education after high school, whether that’s at a community college, a university, or a career & technical program.”

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She is focusing on higher education for good reason. According to the Reach Higher website, three-quarters of all jobs require some type of education or training beyond the high school level. Over the course of a lifetime, an average worker with a bachelor’s degree will make $1 million more than someone with only a high school diploma.

Obama continues, “College is worth it. YOU are worth it. Never, ever doubt that for a second.”