Michelle Obama To Give UC Merced Commencement Speech - KMPH FOX 26 | Central San Joaquin Valley News Source

Michelle Obama To Give UC Merced Commencement Speech

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By Ashley Ritchie and Winston Whitehurst

When Yang Li and Jackie Shay began their college careers at UC Merced four years ago, they were making history as the first students to step foot on the campus.

And this May, they'll become a part of history once again.

"Honestly, I can't even puzzle all the pieces together right now. I'm so shocked about the whole situation," Shay said.

White House officials confirmed Friday First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver the commencement speech to the University's first full graduating class of 450 students.

It's a thrilling outcome to a quest started on campus back in January.

"The way the students are growing up here, and a lot of first time college students coming into Merced, very much like her own story," Li said.

But getting the Commander-in-Chief's wife to the Central Valley was no easy task.

Students made a YouTube video, created Facebook pages, even sent Mrs. Obama nearly 1,000 Valentine's Day cards.

"We had looked at this from all fronts too, to put in as much effort as possible, and to have it all pay off is truly a wonderful and satisfying feeling," Li said.

May's visit to the Valley will be the first for Mrs. Obama.

It's a visit the President himself has yet to make, even during his trip to California earlier this month.

Students at UC Merced hope the experience will be eye-opening.

"They should've been here and they should've seen the Valley. I think this is the Valley's time to shine," Shay said.

University officials say having a high profile speaker like Mrs. Obama will help put UC Merced on the map.

"I think it's going to raise visibility for parents, prospective students who are thinking about coming out to California," Patti Istas, with UC Merced, said.

And as for Jackie Shay and Yang Li, they've got a lot to look forward to: the end of college, a degree, and another day of making history.

This will also be the first commencement speech Michelle Obama has given since becoming the First Lady.

And as for President Obama, so far he is slated to speak to graduates at Arizona State, Notre Dame and the United States Naval Academy.

University officials say they're now waiting to hear from the White House regarding the massive amount of security details regarding the First Lady's visit.

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