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That’s what strength looks like,” said Victoria as she gazed at Michelle Obama up onstage. Victoria, 15, wasn’t the only awestruck girl to attend “Becoming: An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama,” in November, tied to the launch of her book Becoming. The former First Lady always sets aside 10 percent of event seats for local community organizations, and 101 girls, staff and board members from Girls Inc. of Holyoke were lucky enough to join her.

After piling into two buses to Boston and dining in style at the UMass Club in Boston, we joined the sold-out crowd at TD Garden. There, Obama sat onstage with NPR’s Michele Norris, speaking with humor, warmth and insight about her life. A huge thanks to Ken Toong at UMass Amherst Auxiliary Services who helped sponsor our meal, Jose Delgado, MGM Springfield’s Director of Government Affairs who recommended that Girls Inc. receive the tickets, plus State Senator Jo Comerford and South Hadley Town Administrator and Girls Inc. Steering Committee member Mike Sullivan for channeling funds toward the trip. 

And (bonus!) we got great coverage at the event. In a WHDH-TV segment, Executive Director Suzanne Parker spoke of Obama’s impact on the girls, then Kyah, age 17, chimed in: “Coming out tonight really validated my strength and my power and my voice. This makes me want to do great things in my life.”