First lady urges grads to reach out to those with different beliefs

In a speech to graduates of Eastern Kentucky University on Saturday, first lady Michelle Obama urged them to reach out to those with different beliefs.

“That’s what’s always made this country great, embracing the diversity of experience and opinion that surrounds us everywhere we go,” said the first lady. So I encourage you all -- seek it out.

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“Try visiting a different congregation every once in a while; you might just hear something in the sermon that stays with you. If you’re a Democrat, spend some time talking to a Republican. And if you’re a Republican, have a chat with a Democrat,” she continued.

“Maybe you’ll find some common ground, maybe you won’t.  But if you honestly engage with an open mind and an open heart, I guarantee you’ll learn something.”

The White House said the first lady chose to address the graduating seniors of Eastern Kentucky because of the school’s “outstanding record supporting veterans and military families.” 


Obama has made her Joining Forces initiative, which seeks to find jobs for returning veterans, a centerpiece of her work.

In her address, she also spoke about her own challenges attending college and urged the graduates to press to achieve their goals. 

“I know you faced all kinds of doubts and uncertainties when you first showed up on this campus.  And I know a little bit about that from my own experiences,” said the first lady.

“I hope that you never lose sight of what brought you to this day -– those values that you came here with, and those skills and talents you developed while you were here.  Because when you pair those two things together, you will be prepared for whatever comes next,” she said.