When people ask First Lady Michelle Obama to describe herself, she doesn’t hesitate to say that first and foremost, she is Malia and Sasha’s mom.
But before she was a mother — or a wife, lawyer or public servant — she was Fraser and Marian Robinson’s daughter.
The Robinsons lived in a brick bungalow on the South Side of Chicago. Fraser was a pump operator for the Chicago Water Department, and despite being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at a young age, he hardly ever missed a day of work. Marian stayed home to raise Michelle and her older brother Craig, skillfully managing a busy household filled with love, laughter, and important life lessons.
A product of Chicago public schools, Mrs. Obama studied sociology and African-American studies at Princeton University. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1988, she joined the Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin, where she later met the man who would become the love of her life.
After a few years, Mrs. Obama decided her true calling was working with people to serve their communities and their neighbors. She served as assistant commissioner of planning and development in Chicago’s City Hall before becoming the founding executive director of the Chicago chapter of Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program that prepares youth for public service.
In 1996, Mrs. Obama joined the University of Chicago with a vision of bringing campus and community together. As Associate Dean of Student Services, she developed the university’s first community service program, and under her leadership as Vice President of Community and External Affairs for the University of Chicago Medical Center, volunteerism skyrocketed.
Promoting Service and working with young people has remained a staple of her career and her interest. Continuing this effort now as First Lady, Mrs. Obama in 2010 launched Let’s Move!, a campaign to bring together community leaders, teachers, doctors, nurses, moms and dads in a nationwide effort to tackle the challenge of childhood obesity. Let’s Move! has an ambitious but important goal: to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation.
Let’s Move! will give parents the support they need, provide healthier food in schools, help our kids to be more physically active, and make healthy, affordable food available in every part of our country.
In 2011, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Jill Biden together launched Joining Forces, a nationwide initiative that mobilizes all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned, and to raise awareness of military families’ unique needs as pertains to employment, education, and wellness. Joining Forces has been working hand in hand with American businesses who are committed to answering the President’s challenge to hire or train 100,000 unemployed veterans and military spouses by 2013.
As First Lady, Mrs. Obama looks forward to continuing her work on the issues close to her heart — supporting military families, helping working women balance career and family, encouraging national service, promoting the arts and arts education, and fostering healthy eating and healthy living for children and families across the country.
Michelle and Barack Obama have two daughters: Malia, 14, and Sasha, 11. Like their mother, the girls were born on the South Side of Chicago.