Michelle Obama’s new IGTV series about overcoming odds is an expert lesson in paying it forward

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Jessica Rapana
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Michelle Obama

The former first lady is shining a light on first-generation college students who have “overcome tremendous odds”, and the project is close to her heart.

Michelle Obama might have left the White House three years ago, but when it comes to changing the world, she is only just getting started.

The former-FLOTUS – who was named 2019’s “most inspiring woman” – continues to inspire, project-by-project, whether through her best-selling memoir, Becoming, or drawing global awareness to the issues that matter.

Now, she has announced her latest project: an IGTV series, aptly titled A Year Of Firsts, that will tell the stories of first-generation college students navigating their freshman year.

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For Obama, who has long-championed education with Higher Reach, the initiative she launched while in the White House, this particular project is one that is close to her heart. 

“As a first-generation college student myself, I know how intimidating it can be to take that leap and pursue your education dreams,” Obama said in a statement, via the Hollywood Reporter.

“That’s why I’m so proud of these students. By sharing their stories, they’re helping others see that the ups and downs of the first year of college are something everyone goes through – they’re creating a supportive community for others facing similar challenges,” the statement read.

Michelle Obama speaks at a book launch event

Michelle Obama's IGTV series will debut in January

The show will be produced by ATTN: in partnership with Obama’s Reach Higher initiative. The aim is to highlight the many hidden challenges of making it through college and dealing with issues, such as academic stress, relationships, finances and physical and mental health. 

The series will focus on the stories and experience of four first-year college students from across the country, including places such as Alabama, California, Washington DC, North Dakota.

In the official trailer, released on Instagram on Tuesday morning, we meet the four students: Regan, Haseeb, Linette, and Robert. “Each of them has overcome tremendous odds to get where they are,” Obama says on the trailer. “And throughout the year, they’ll tell us what that first year of college is really like: the ups, the downs and everything in between.” 

The short preview reveals the documentary-style series will paint a picture of what that freshman year is really like, from the balancing of part-time jobs and studies to surviving on caffeine.

The six-episode series will debut in mid-January and end in June – prepare to be inspired.

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Images: Getty


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Jessica Rapana

Jessica Rapana is a journalist based in London, and enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content. She is especially fond of news, health, entertainment and travel content, and drinks coffee like a Gilmore Girl.

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