Former first lady Michelle Obama surprised 150 students during the first annual Young Women’s Leadership Conference: Leadership Lessons Learned through the Arts in Dallas on Monday, ahead of her sold-out book tour at the American Airlines Center.
The group was made up of teens from nine high schools in the North Texas area who had been studying Obama’s best-selling memoir, Becoming. The AT&T Performing Arts Center produced the free program for the girls through donations.
While a small group of young women were in a workshop, the former first lady walked out to greet the unassuming students.
EBONY was on hand to capture the precious moment when the students realized they were sharing the stage with Obama. Several of them hugged her, and others began to cry.
“These young women have been studying Mrs. Obama’s book in advance of the conference but did not know she would show up here in person, so you can imagine the excitement,” said Debbie Storey, interim president and CEO of the AT&T Performing Arts Center. “This conference leverages the arts to build creativity, improve educational outcomes and develop strong leaders. Having Mrs. Obama share her lessons on leadership was really one of the highlights of the day!”
The new author spoke to the girls about overcoming self-doubt and tapping into their greatness.
“There are things in each one of you as well. There is nothing unique about me as an individual,” Obama said. “It’s just [about] digging deep and having enough experiences to keep yourself broad and open.”
Last week, it was reported that Becoming was the most purchased book of 2018, with sales of 3 million copies in under four weeks. It is among “the fastest-selling nonfiction books in history,” according to Forbes.
The #IAmBecoming book tour kicked off in Chicago Nov. 13 and has been extended to Canada and Europe in 2019. Throughout the tour, Obama has been surprising girls across the country including at a girls club in New York City earlier this month.
Swipe through the Instagram gallery below to hear some of the wisdom Obama shared with the students.
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.