Remarks by the First Lady
Who do you think has the greatest influence on your education? When nothing goes as it should and you are close to failing, then who is to blame for this? Is this your teachers’ fault? Or maybe your principal’s fault? Is it because of problems at home? Or could it possibly be you? The first lady Michelle Obama strongly believes in this, which is reflected as she held her speech at the Bell Multicultural High School, Columbia Heights Education Campus.
“The person with the biggest impact on your education is you.”
These words came from the first lady Michelle Obama when she held her speech at the Bell Multicultural High School where she talked about the great educational problem that the United States is facing at the moment. A generation ago the United States was number 1 in the number of college graduates. But since then the country has slipped to a 12th place. In her opinion it is unacceptable and something must be done. Hard work is what it takes.
The sender of the speech is the first lady Michelle Obama and the message she is giving, is for the students at the High School, who therefore is the receiver of the message.
The speech differs enormously from many other speeches, as we know. It’s not just an “ordinary” speech as we know it, but Michelle Obama manages to really get the audience’s attention by showing that she is indeed interested in the students and that she will fight for each and every one of them so they one day achieve their goals as she achieved her own goals.
The purpose of the speech is to tell the students at the school about the president’s North Star goal for America. That by the year 2020 the country will have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world, which is also the same year that the students at the Bell Multicultural High School will graduate. By mentioning that it is the year in which the students will graduate, the First lady shows that she believes the students can get through this, which helps to create a good contact between sender and receiver.
A special thing about this speech is that Michelle Obama is calling the speech a conversation between her and the young people. She says the following:
“But I also believe that this conversation — it’s got to be a two-way conversation.”
A speech is usually characterized by the sender has a message to the receiver. In other words, the communication often goes only one way, from sender to receiver. Here we are dealing with a different kind of communication between the sender and receiver. Michelle Obama believes communication should go both ways. She let the students know that she is aware they have some important things to say and some important questions that deserve answers. She therefore attaches great emphasis on continuing to listen to their stories beyond just talking to them.
The sender is as written before the First Lady Michelle Obama. It will often be quite difficult for the receiver to identify himself or herself with the sender if the sender is from a very different social class compared to oneself, which Michelle Obama is in this case. But she still manages the best way possible to get at eye level with the students by speaking from her own personal life experience.
As she speaks from her own personal life experience and shares a large part of her time in education where she experienced both challenges and triumphs, she use the appeal form pathos. This is a form of appeal, which is intended to contact the receivers’ emotions. She tries to evoke optimism among the students and try to give them hope and courage as a way to convince them of her point of view to be successful in life. The personal story works really well because the concrete and personal speaks more to our emotions than the abstract and general. The goal is to convince students that they can achieve whatever they want as long as they work hard for it.
Throughout the text, the First Lady several times mention the word “North Star,” which is the name of the 2020 target, as Obama has set. But it is only the first time that it is in connection with the 2020 target. Second time Michelle Obama uses the word is when she talks about her own youth and the hard time to get to graduate:
“But through it all, I kept that college diploma as my North Star.”
By repeating the word and by putting it in the context of her own goals and Rogers goals, she not only presents it as a goal Obama has set for the country but she makes it something more personal for the young students. The fact that it is also possible for them to work against their personal North Star goals and thereby lead them two any future they could ever dream of.