The day you surprised me at the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon…and how you inspired me and countless women and girls to never give up.
It was such an honor meeting you at the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon back in January 2017! That morning, I thought I was recording a video expressing my appreciation for all your work. I never expected you to step out from behind that curtain with Jimmy Fallon to surprise me in the studio! I hope you like the “Educate a Girl, Change the World.” sticker I gave you when we met. The design was created by a college woman named Leah from my mentorship program.
I’m a female entrepreneur on a mission to help young women and girls in high school and college design the life and career they love. When I started My Social Canvas, I never imagined that I would be standing face-to-face with you one January morning at NBCUniversal, or that I would have the chance to sit in a room full of inspiring women and hear from you and Oprah at the 2016 “United State of Women” Summit hosted by your team at the White House.
Now, this journey did not come without challenges. I remember one time after I first launched My Social Canvas, I had just $7 in my bank account. I knew I couldn’t give up on my dream, and you’re one of the reasons I didn’t. I know there are plenty of girls around the world who would feel the same.
I recently sat down with Tatiana, one of the young women in my “Design the Life You Love” mentorship program, who you also surprised at the Tonight Show! Tatiana said, “The moment you surprised me was so inspiring. It was a moment of immense joy and gratitude. I felt like I was sharing the moment with my mom, my aunt, and my grandmother. To all of us, you are truly a role model. I come from a family of hard working immigrants that left Barbados to move to New York to seek more opportunities. You just don't see many black women hold positions of power that we get to see, hear, and celebrate. The moment we met was so special and it’s a day I’ll never forget.” Tatiana is just one example of a young woman whose life you’ve changed for the better.
Your passion and drive extends far and wide to girls across the world. Krishanti Vignarajah, who spearheaded your work through Let Girls Learn said, “You inspired girls everywhere to reimagine their lives through your eyes. You saw what they could be and made them see it, too. I saw myself in the girls we met visiting the neglected corners of Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as your Policy Director and to lead Let Girls Learn. Best. Boss. Ever.”
During your final speech as First Lady, you said, “If we're always shining the spotlight on professional athletes or recording artists or Hollywood celebrities—if those are the only achievements we celebrate— then why would we ever think kids would see college as a priority?”
Today, in celebration of International Day of the Girl, you are doing just that. You are putting the spotlight on girls around the world and even invited a group of women and girls to celebrate the morning with you on the Today Show. Talk about an unforgettable experience for the girls involved! Now, with the launch of the Obama Foundation’s Global Girls Alliance, you will continue to lead the force by educating girls, and truly changing the world.
Mrs. Obama, because of your passion for everyday women, girls, and families, you remind me it’s never time to quit. You have made me and countless others see that it doesn’t matter if I’m one woman with a dream or the CEO of a fortune 500 company — I can do anything.
I believe in the power of mentors and other women reminding us to never give up. So thank you, Mrs. Obama, for being a role model to all of us and reminding us daily that we have the capacity to dream big and truly design the life and career we love.
Lisa, Tatiana, + the girls of My Social Canvas and Design the Life You Love