Michelle Obama gave her last speech as first lady today, and — as you might imagine — she knocked it out of the park. “Being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life, and I hope I’ve made you proud,” she said, blinking back tears as her remarks were met with thunderous applause.
Obama had gathered high school counselors from all over the country at the White House today to honor the 2017 School Counselor of the Year, among many other stellar counselors, in a ceremony that she started in 2015 for those with exceptional leadership skills.
In her speech, Obama spoke beautifully about hope. “When you encounter obstacles — because I guarantee you, you will, and many of you already have — when you are struggling and you start thinking about giving up, I want you to remember something that my husband and I have talked about since we first started this journey nearly a decade ago, something that has carried us through every moment in this White House and every moment of our lives, and that is the power of hope — the belief that something better is always possible if you’re willing to work for it and fight for it,” she said.
“It is our fundamental belief in the power of hope that has allowed us to rise above the voices of doubt and division, of anger and fear that we have faced in our own lives and in the life of this country,” Obama continued. “Our hope that if we work hard enough and believe in ourselves, then we can be whatever we dream, regardless of the limitations that others may place on us. The hope that when people see us for who we truly are, maybe, just maybe they too will be inspired to rise to their best possible selves.”
And though we may be facing an uncertain and scary four years, Obama spoke directly to our nation’s young people, reminding them of their importance and telling them that they should not be afraid. “I want our young people to know that they matter, that they belong, so don’t be afraid,” the FLOTUS said. “You hear me? Young people, don’t be afraid. Be focused, be determined, be hopeful, be empowered.” Once again, Obama mentioned hope, saying, “Lead by example with hope, never fear, and know that I will be with you, rooting for you and working to support you for the rest of my life.”
The full 21-minute video is really worth watching, though you may find yourself struggling to stay composed alongside Obama (and the bevy of women on stage behind her). Or, for the full transcript of her final remarks, head over to Time.
Before you go, check out our slideshow below.