First Lady Michelle Obama Delivers Commencement Address at MLK, Jr. Magnet High School Commencement, 5/18/13

Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Magnet High School for Health Sciences and Engineering at Historic Pearl High in Nashville, TN serves approximately 1,200 students in grades 7 through 12 with a curriculum that emphasizes mathematics and science. Housed in the historic Pearl High School building, MLK is consistently ranked among the best public schools in the nation for its academic rigor and high graduation rate.

“….when I got to college…. I took a class on Greek mythology — yes, Greek mythology — that was way over my head. I found myself sitting in a lecture hall full of juniors and seniors — how did I get there? — struggling just to keep up, and by the time I took the midterm exam, all I could muster was a C — and it was the very first C I’d ever gotten and I was devastated.

But instead of wilting, I found a way to fight through it: I poured my heart and soul into a paper. I spent a lot of time talking to the professor before and after class. And in the end, I ended up getting a good grade in that class. But what I learned was far more important than that letter grade from that experience. What I learned was that when something doesn’t go your way, you’ve just got to adjust. You’ve got to dig deep and work like crazy. And that’s when you’ll find out what you’re really made of, during those hard times.

But you can only do that if you’re willing to put yourself in a position where you might fail. And that’s why so often, failure is the key to success for so many great people. Take Steve Jobs, who was fired from Apple early in his career, and now his iPods and iPads and iPhones have revolutionized the entire world. Oprah was demoted from her first job as a news anchor, now she doesn’t even need a last name. (Laughter.) And then there’s this guy, Barack Obama, who lost — (applause) — I could take up a whole afternoon talking about his failures, but — (laughter) — he lost his first race for Congress, and now he gets to call himself my husband. (Laughter and applause.)

All jokes aside, the point is, is that resilience and grit, that ability to pick yourself up when you fall. Those are some of the most important skills you’ll need as you make your way through college and through life.”

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