Mash photo by Raul España

By Raul España
Lane Tech

Chicago teens and youth who are a part of Urban Alliance—a program that provides underserved neighborhoods in Chicago opportunities for better jobs and careers—are celebrating higher graduating rates, more scholarships, and better job opportunities in the “real world.” And there is no better way to celebrate then by having the United States’ first lady Michelle Obama visit the program on Thursday, July 18 at Columbia College to speak to and congratulate the teens on their success.

The first lady teamed up with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his wife Amy Rule to help in providing students with better tools to graduate and go on to college or straight to a possible career.

Mayor Emanuel was proud to say that CPS students have gained the most scholarships in the history of the city. He is pleased with the results of the first graduating class of Urban Alliance, telling the students and press, “When you have the chance to go through the door of opportunity and you turn around, do you close the door, or do you grab someone’s hand to help them through the door?”

As Mrs. Obama spoke, she mentioned her background when she lived in Chicago, growing up with her brother and eventually following him to Princeton University. She reminded the students of the organization that, “You should not turn your back on your background. It’s exactly what brought you here.”

Mrs. Obama, before turning it over to Rule, congratulated and thanked her for her efforts and support of Urban Alliance, and for giving the students the opportunities to work hard to be where they are now.

“I am grateful for about the 60 Chicago companies that sponsored Urban Alliance,” Rule said. Companies from Walgreens to the Chicago Bulls sponsor the organization, and even give the students involved the chance to work and be an intern for their companies.

Mrs. Obama answered a few questions from students, and she spoke of their ability to be a part of the city and the world.

“[My brother] opened my eyes to the opportunities and possibilities so many students have,” Obama said. “You can give so much more perspective than you think.”

After the questions concluded, the press was shooed away so that the students in Urban Alliance could have the well-deserved one-on-one time with Mayor Emanuel, his wife Amy, and the first lady of the United States.

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About The Mash

The Mash is the Chicago Tribune's newspaper and website written for teens, by teens. The paper is distributed for free every other Thursday at Chicago-area high schools and is written largely by high school students.

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