The Sweet Reasons These Girls See Michelle Obama As Their Role Model

Photo: Paul Sancya/ AP Photo.
There are many reasons why we love Michelle Obama. But one of the most important ones is the impact she has had on the lives of young girls in the U.S. and abroad.

As her time as first lady comes to an end, we wonder: What is the legacy she's leaving for the girls who grew up seeing her in the White House?
"I think she stands for kindness in America," said Alexis Shenkiryk, a 12-year-old in Del Mar, CA. "She really encouraged me to try harder, and she promoted a lot of good things for everyone, not just certain people."

Alexis was jealous when her 24-year-old sister got to attend President Barack Obama's 2008 inauguration. Rhonda Moret, the Shenkiryk sisters' mom, said that over the years, the goodwill the first lady was able to pass on to her girls overflowed from the White House.

"We're a biracial family," Moret said. "We've had numerous conversations discussing how one's race or background are truly irrelevant, and how we should value one's character above all else."

Inara Abernathy, a 17-year-old in Nashville, TN, has absorbed many life lessons of her own from the first lady.

"She's strong and beautiful, and she makes me feel beautiful, too," Inara said. "I feel like I can accomplish things when I think about her."

Then there's bullying.

"I was bullied a lot when I was little and she taught me how, when I got bullied, to just don't think about it," Inara said. "Ignore them. Live your life and be happy."

Her dad is a retired Army colonel, and the teen admires FLOTUS' shout-out to military families. And when the first lady put in the White House garden, "It made me think about eating better food and losing weight," Inara said. "Without her, I'm not sure I would have done that."

Kassidy Carey, a Norfolk, VA, 10th grader, canvassed for Hillary Clinton and has volunteered to advocate for various social causes through the site She was too little to remember the president's first inauguration, but she loved watching the second one. She's a regular first lady watcher.

"Oh, I love her," said Kassidy, who has already decided on law school when the time comes. "I just think she's really well composed, and she's an empowering person."

"I really appreciate that the first lady tries to make young girls feel like more than just girls, you know," she said. "She makes us feel like people who actually have opinions that matter, and who can fight for what we believe in."

Kiki Emordi is 8 and in the third grade in Richmond, TX. Her parents are originally from Nigeria, and her mother, Ngozi Emordi, teaches English as a second language.

"She's a bold woman," said the elder Emordi, who also has two older girls and a son. "Any Black girl can just see Michelle and know she can dream big. She says to these girls, 'It doesn't matter where you come from or what you look like; you can be anything that you want to be.'"

Rebecca Briscoe teaches second grade to Kiki and classmate Maya Babu.

"For over 10 years now, I have taught in underserved communities," Briscoe said. "Michelle is like their Beyoncé because she grew up hard like them."

As for Maya? Obama, she said, "makes me want to be a better girl."

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