College Commencement Prep: Michelle Obama

Nancy Berk, Ph.D.

First_Lady_Michelle_Obama_Official_Portrait_2009_HiResSmart College Visit’s Z. Kelly Queijo sent me a “Woo Hoo” email when she learned her beloved alma mater Virginia Tech would be welcoming Michelle Obama as its 2012 Commencement Speaker. I was impressed and happy for the deserving institution, but I wanted to make sure Kelly was ready for a presidential encounter should it happen. What if she bumped into the First Lady totally unprepared? As a parent who captured some great President Clinton moments at NYU's 2011 commencement, I was the perfect coach for Kelly. I created this timeline to help her on the road to graduation.

  • 2 Months Before: Immediately begin bicep regimen. You must rock sleeveless too.
  • 1 Month Before: Plant your own garden so you’ll have something in common besides the biceps.
  • 1 Week Before: Buy something cute in long sleeves—the arm curls just aren’t working.
  • 1 Day Before: Assume you’ll meet the First Lady. Jot down the important questions you’ve been dying to ask her—star struck people forget a lot.
  • Commencement Morning: Go to the most popular diner in town for breakfast; political peeps love to show up unannounced and order the special.
  • Commencement Hour: Bring your zoom lens. Sorry, but statistically speaking, it’s probably the closest you’ll get to seeing the commencement speaker. Still, even at a distance, an amazing day with an inspirational woman can leave you breathless.

Congrats Hokies for welcoming First Lady Michelle Obama!

Nancy Berk is a regular contributor to Smart College Visit and creator of the College Mom Minute audio podcast for parents. Her book, COLLEGE BOUND AND GAGGED: How to Help Your Kid Get into a Great College without Losing Your Savings, Your Relationship, or Your Minda parent's guide to colleges– is available on 

Virginia Tech's Commencement is May 11, 2012 at 12 p.m. Please see the Visit Virginia Tech profile page on Smart College Visit for directions to campus and other information about traveling or visiting Blacksburg. The Visit Virginia Tech iPhone app is available free on iTunes.