Michelle Obama told graduates of the “poor man’s Harvard” that living without privilege is an advantage

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

In her last commencement address as US first lady, Michelle Obama spoke to the graduates of the City College of New York, telling them they needed to flip the way they think about privilege and disadvantage.

More than 40% of the students attending CCNY—once nicknamed the “poor man’s Harvard”—are first-generation college students, and half are from low-income households. In front of this diverse, immigrant-heavy class, Obama made the case that growing up without privilege conferred an advantage on them that rich kids don’t have: The perspective to know that “life will put many obstacles in your path that are far worse than a bad grade.”