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Carroll Community College student meets Michelle Obama during discussion in Landover

Carroll Community College student Amira Yacoubou Adam recently had the chance to sit with and even hug former first lady Michelle Obama. But it was the words and affirmations Obama shared that Yacoubou Adam will remember for the rest of her life.

Yacoubou Adam, 21, met Obama Nov. 9 during a livestreamed event at Prince George’s County Community College in Landover. She was among 14 college students who participated in the discussion, four of whom represented area community colleges.

Amira Yacoubou Adam, a student at Carroll Community College, said she was elated to meet Michelle Obama and would remember some of the some of the discussions they had for the rest of her life.

The Century High School graduate said she found the opportunity in an email from CCC advertising a partnership with Prince George’s Community College. CCC students could apply to be among a group who would meet with Obama and discuss her book, “Becoming.” The event, sponsored by Penguin Random House, was part of a promotional tour for Obama’s book, which was published in November 2018.

The discussion touched on Obama’s memoir and also about what it is like to be a college student. They discussed how mental health has been impacted during the pandemic and also impostor syndrome, a phenomenon in which a person doubts their abilities and feels their success is somehow fraudulent. Yacoubou Adam said her favorite moment was when Obama mentioned “your kitchen table,” referring to a person’s support system.


“It’s sometimes challenging at my age to find the people that you know you can trust, and hearing Mrs. Obama talk about how important that was is something that I’ll never forget,” Yacoubou Adam said.

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There were times during the event Yacoubou Adam was able to interact directly with the author. When Obama spoke about men having “the audacity” to say whatever they want while women tend to hold back, Yacoubou Adam said the phrase “dare to have the audacity.” Obama replied that this would make a good book title, referencing her husband, President Barack Obama’s bestselling book, “The Audacity of Hope.” After the exchange, every time Obama said the word “audacity” she made eye contact with Yacoubou Adam, she recalled.

The psychology major asked Obama if she ever said affirmations to herself. Obama told her she doesn’t because she looks to the people around her for affirmation. Yacoubou Adam said it reminded her of the “kitchen table” response and the importance of having positive support during times of self-doubt.

“And I resonated with that as I like to talk through whatever is bothering me at the time with people I trust,” Yacoubou Adam said. “It’s one of the best ways for me to feel better about any sort of situation.”

Yacoubou Adam said she didn’t expect Obama to be as warm and engaging as she was. She was also struck by the former first lady’s height. “I’m pretty tall myself. I’m 5′8,” she said. “When I hugged her, it was at least a 4-inch difference.”

Jen Snyder, CCC’s senior director of student engagement, called the event a “once in a lifetime opportunity.” She said Obama is an incredible and inspiring person, and she was pleased Yacoubou Adam could represent CCC so well during the discussion.

Yacoubou Adam said it was an honor and privilege to participate in the positive and uplifting event.

“I will never forget the energized and hopeful feeling from that event,” she said.