First Lady Michelle Obama gave her first commencement address to the students of the newest and smallest of the ten campuses in the University of California system this weekend. The students at University of California at Merced did their very best to petition to get Mrs. Obama to speak at the school’s very first graduation on Saturday, May 16. They sent an internet video, tons of letters and Valentine Day cards to her office and finally after all the hard work and many pleas, she stood in front of them, paying tribute to their persistence and hard work.

Mrs. Obama urged the graduates to give back to their communities. They may not have much of a choice as currently unemployment in Merced County tops 20 percent, and the area has been hit hard by numerous real estate foreclosures, according to the Associated Press.

In ending her speech, Mrs. Obama said, “You are the hope of Merced and of this nation. And be the realization of our dreams and the hope for the next generation. We believe in you.” -WLW

Watch Mrs. Obama’s speech to the graduates of University of California at Merced:

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