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First Lady Michelle Obama Visits Howard to Discuss Women's Roles

WASHINGTON (Feb. 11) -- First Lady Michelle Obama visited the Howard University School of Business Wednesday to kick off a panel discussion on the challenges for women of balancing a professional career and family.

Mrs. Obama told a crowd of 250 students, faculty, staff and administrators gathered in the school’s second floor auditorium that even she still struggles with the challenge of balancing work and family.

"There isn't a day that goes by, particularly after having kids, that I don't wonder or worry about whether I'm doing the right thing,” she said, “for myself, for my family, for my girls."

Mrs. Obama, who was greeted with a rousing standing ovation, began a discussion of "Home, Work, Community: The Role of the African American Women as Change Agents," part of the University’s Black History Month celebration.

Dr. Paula Whetsel-Ribeau, wife of Howard University President Sidney A. Ribeau, was one of a number of University representatives who greeted the First Lady, including Interim Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Alvin Thornton; Dr. Barron H. Harvey, Dean of the School of Business; and Johnetta Boseman Hardy, Executive Director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Innovation; and Victoria Kirby, the undergraduate member of the Board of Trustees.

Obama said that as women move through the various phases of their lives, their priorities and their decision-making process will change.

"There is no right way or wrong way to do any of this,” she said.  "The question I hate most that we ask of young people is 'What are you going to be when you grow up?' And the truth is, I still don't know, and I'm 45!"

The panel consisted of Barbara Lang, president and CEO of the D.C.  Chamber of Commerce; Daphne Dufresne, managing director of RLJ Holdings; Dr. Charlene Dukes, president of Prince Georges Community College; and Candace Adkins, president of Howard University Transfer Students Association. Dr. Florence Bonner, Acting Vice President for Research and Compliance, facilitated the discussion.

After the hour-long discussion and question-and-answer period, Mrs. Obama shook hands and spoke with students and faculty before heading outside where she was greeted by hundreds of students waiting for just a glimpse of the First Lady.

Tyria Stona, 22, a junior public relations major from Long Island, N.Y., said it was “extremely important” to her that Mrs. Obama visited Howard.

“I think it showed a lot, knowing that two-thirds of the underclassmen are women and she’s a strong black woman,” Stona said.  “It showed how African-American women stay true to their roots and always give back.”

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