WASHINGTON – Students around the nation are constantly overcoming educational challenges and hurdles to persevere. First Lady Michelle Obama recognizes this and has committed to helping.

Mrs. Obama hosted the third annual “Beating the Odds” youth summit on Tuesday. About 130 college-bound students participated in the panel discussion followed by a concert performed by musician and Stanford alumni Jidenna.

“I’m here because of you all and the millions of kids like you all out there in this country because I was one of you,” Mrs. Obama addressed the students from the panel.

The Princeton University graduate grew up on the South Side of Chicago and said her parents didn’t go to college, so she can relate to some of the students.

The students come from urban, rural, foster, homeless, special needs and under-represented backgrounds. The event is a part of Mrs. Obama’s Reach Higher initiative and Better Make Room campaign designed to help students finish high school and reach post-secondary institutions.

“Something that will resonate with me is the commitment of this administration to really inspire young kids by making the White House accessible but also the people of the White House accessible,” said Dr. James T. Minor, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education.

Because of initiatives like this, students are able to go to college who might not have been able to otherwise.

First-generation Ethiopian-American Dawit Gebre from Atlanta attended the Beating the Odds event for the second time. He connected with individuals like Dr. Minor at the summit last year and has kept in touch since.

Dawit is a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation college scholarship recipient, which awarded him a full-ride scholarship to attend Stanford University.

“Michelle Obama’s point with this Reach Higher initiative is they’re trying to make everyone understand the importance of education,” Dawit said.

If you would like to watch the panel discussion, you can view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7n9nsSYWmI