Michelle Obama photo

Remarks by the First Lady and Dr. Biden at National Math and Science Bowl in Colorado Springs, Colorado

April 14, 2011

DR. BIDEN: Hello. I'm so incredibly pleased to be back at Fort Carson. And as a teacher, I feel right at home in this school.

The First Lady and I wanted to visit your school today because we know how important the role is that school plays in the lives of military children. As a teacher and a military mom, I know what a difference a great teacher can make and what a world-class education means for our nation's military children.

In our travels, Michelle and I have seen many teachers who are making things easier and better for these military children in their classrooms -- teachers who arrange parent-teacher conferences by Skype so deployed parents can participate; teachers who encourage students to tape a photo of their deployed parent on their desk so they can look at it whenever they feel the need; or teachers like the one in my granddaughter's classroom who hung a photo of my son's deployed unit so the whole class would know that Natalie's dad was at war.

Believe me, that photo of her dad on the wall meant the world to Natalie. And it meant the world to me and the Vice President, too.

These teachers and all other individuals and groups across the country who are supporting our troops and their families are showing all Americans that there are countless ways to help -- some large and some small, but all important.

And I can tell you from personal experience, all appreciate it. We can all join forces.

That's why I'm so excited to be back here today to share what Michelle and I have been working on and to be part of this math and science competition.

With that, I'd like to introduce my friend and our First Lady, Michelle Obama. (Applause.)

MRS. OBAMA: Hey! Wow! (Applause.) Good morning! Now, this is how you wake up. This is good. You all rest yourselves, rest yourselves. (Cheering.)

STUDENT: I love you!

MRS. OBAMA: I love you, guys, too.

First, I want to thank -- let's give Jill Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, a big round of applause. (Applause.) My fabulous partner in this effort, she is a terrific partner, and I'm grateful to have her.

I also want to recognize and thank Bernard, as well as Superintendent Serrano, as well as recognize Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia and Fountain mayor Jeri Howells, as well. Let's give them a round of applause, because they're all here. (Applause.)

And most importantly, I want to thank all the students from Fountain-Fort Carson High School, and especially to all of the members of military families that we have here today, the parents and students who are such an important part of this community and important part of this country.

You all are really the reasons why Jill and I are traveling around the country over these last couple of days, because right now we're kicking off a campaign called Joining Forces. This is a nationwide campaign to recognize, and honor, and support our military families. (Cheering.) Yeah, that's a good thing. (Applause.)

See, the truth is you all inspire us, and we really wanted to do something to give back. So we've asked all types of people all around the country and organizations to get involved in Joining Forces because Jill and I know that everyone can do something.

We're Joining Forces with American people all across the country -- our neighbors, and colleagues, and community members -- folks who are stepping up to give something back to the military families that have given us all so much.

We're Joining Forces with companies like Wal-Mart and Sears, who have promised us that if a military spouse who works at their stores has to move to a new duty station, they'll do their best to have a job waiting for those spouses at their new post.

And we're Joining Forces with schools and organizations like the PTA and the YMCA, who said that they're going to reach out and do more for our military kids.

For example, the National Math and Science Initiative that you've heard about is working with the Department of Defense and partners in the private sector to expand a program that they've called the Initiative for Military Families. Now, this program provides Advanced Placement courses, as you've heard, in math and science to schools and areas with high military populations.

And that's really why Jill and I wanted to be here today. That's why we picked this school, we picked this community. We're thrilled about this effort and we're thrilled about how it's going to affect students like you.

But we're even more excited that this initiative is going to be opening up to a total of 28 new schools, including right here at Fort-Fountain -- at Fountain-Fort Carson. And that's why we're here today.

And this means that thousands of additional students just like all of you are going to get access to AP courses. And this is important because in addition to stretching your minds, it's going to make you more competitive for college admissions. All these colleges are looking for kids who are doing AP courses. This is going to give you a leg up. And it's going to open up greater opportunities for you for the rest of your lives.

And this isn't just about the classes that you'll be taking in the next few years. This is really about the opportunities that you're going to have for years to come. This is about your future. It's about the people that you're going to become. It's about the impact that you're going to make in this country, perhaps in the world.

See, the truth is, as Bernard has said, math and science skills are important. And the ones that you're going to learn through these AP courses are going to open up a whole new world for all of you. Maybe they'll get you to medical school, because you need those types of courses to be competitive. Maybe they'll get you work at a software company. Those companies are hiring so much and they're looking for the top students in the areas of math or science.

Or maybe it'll get you in space, just like Bernard, or even to become one of the top CEOs in one of the most powerful companies in the country, because most of the CEOs of S&P 500 companies don't get their degrees in business or economics. They really are usually getting their educations in engineering. And I didn't even realize that. I thought that all CEOs were business and law majors, I thought, because I was a lawyer, you know. But it's really engineering. It's the math and the sciences.

And an education in math and science can put you on the path to success in almost any field that you can imagine. It helps you to see things differently and it gives you a special set of skills to go out and to tackle the world.

And there's something that I've learned in working and learning from and hearing from military families, and it's that growing up in a military family also gives you a special set of skills. I've learned that from the young people that I've met again and again. When we talked to students like many of you, I've seen how having a parent in the military gives you all a unique perspective.

And I'm just curious -- I want to see by a show of hands how many students here have parents who have served in the military. I just want to see. Just look at that. (Applause.) Just look at that. (Applause.)

So I know that you all have some idea of what I'm talking about, because you all are the ones filling in for your moms and dads when they're deployed, right? You're the ones who are taking on those extra household chores, stepping up at home. You're the ones making sure that your little brothers and sisters stay in line. I know that's true, right?

You're dealing with those moves every few years. How many of you have had to move several times in your high school careers? How many of you? And having to adjust to that fourth or five or sixth new school?

And I know that that's not always easy. That can't be easy. And that wasn't my life. I was one of those kids who lived in the same city, went to the same high school, and I can only imagine how difficult it must be for kids who have to move and readjust every couple of years. So I know it's not been easy for you all.

But one of the things I want to say is that on those tough days -- and I know they come around every now and then, those tough days when you feel like you don't want to roll out of bed, right? Yeah, I see some heads nodding. I know those days. We have those days, too, every now and then. I think the President does, too. I got to push him out of bed. It's like, "Get up!" (Laughter.) We all have those days.

But when you feel that, and you don't want to take that extra effort, you think about skipping school, I just hope that you realize just how special your circumstances are. I want you to realize that you all are really living an Advanced Placement kind of life. You're living it. You're learning what responsibility really means. Right now, all of this that you're going through is teaching you responsibility.

And you're learning how to be flexible. And flexibility is key to just surviving as adults. You're learning how to be resourceful. And more important, you're learning how to be resilient, and that's 80 percent of the battle, and I think a lot of adults here will agree, right, a little flexibility and resilience will take you a long way.

So those are your specific skill sets that you're learning. And when you use that knowledge alongside with what you'll be learning in these math and science courses and other classes, there's no telling what you guys will be able to do and what you'll be able to achieve.

So I want you all to be proud of who you are. I want all of you young people from military families to know just how unique you are, how unique your experiences are, and take that with you, and know that you can conquer anything. If you can do this, you can definitely go to college, right? You can definitely succeed in college. Come on, let me hear this. Right? (Applause.)

If you can do this, you can go on to be a lawyer, a doctor, a teacher. You can do anything you want. If you can get through this, you can do anything.

And just know that this whole country is behind you. That's what Joining Forces is all about -- making sure that you know that from the President of the United States on down, we're behind you. And in the months and years ahead, we want you to show us what you've got, right? You've got to show us your stuff. Can you do that? (Applause.) I think you can. (Applause.)

We're proud of you. And actually, I think we're going to get a chance to see some stuff showing right now. I understand that we've got a little competition coming up. Is that right?

We've got the students versus the parents! Oh, I know, parents are groaning there. It's, like, are you smarter than a fifth-grader? (Laughter.) I know sometimes I'm not. (Laughter.)

But each team will have one Mythbuster, Jamie and Grant, to a team. So I don't want anyone blaming it on your Mythbuster, all right? I'm talking to the parents. (Laughter.) If you lose, don't blame the Mythbusters.

So Jill and I are going to sit down. We're going to be asking the questions. So we're excited. So now it's time for us to meet our contestants and get this started.

Thank you all so much. Keep doing what you're doing. (Applause.)

Michelle Obama, Remarks by the First Lady and Dr. Biden at National Math and Science Bowl in Colorado Springs, Colorado Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/320533

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