An Internet meme of Michelle Obama embracing a college student made rounds on social media this week, and apparently, it blew everyone’s minds.
Why? Because the photograph not only incorrectly identified the grad as Obama’s oldest daughter, Malia, but also showcased a profound quote of Prophet Muhammad SAW on the young woman’s graduation cap.
And because social media is the place where all fact checking goes out the window, the meme instantly went viral. Many shared the photo with their excitement that “Malia” had been so remarkably inspired by Islam, while others–namely the Islamophobic trolls–deemed the picture ultimate proof that President Obama and his family are closet Muslims.
Fortunately, some quick fact-checking (aka a Google search) soon put the mystery to rest, and the young woman’s true identity was revealed as Yemeni immigrant Orruba Almansouri.
Almansouri, who was seated onstage with the First Lady for the graduation ceremony, addressed her City College of New York classmates as class Salutatorian.
Delivering a truly inspirational commencement speech in a stunning blue hijab (work it girl), Almansouri detailed her unique journey as the first woman in her family to pursue a higher education.
She jokingly recalled sleepless nights and heated debates with her father while her high school friends enjoyed prom and other activities. Fellow classmates and teachers also learned of her family’s growing concerns that college would ultimately “corrupt” her.
“What I used to see as endless walls, they just became obstacles that I either needed to learn how to break down or learn how to climb. I fought to be allowed to pursue an education, for the right to be here,” she said proudly.
Despite everything, it was Almansouri’s determination and focus to succeed that led her to break her family’s tradition, and graduate with an impressive 3.97 GPA and a double BA.
Touched by the young woman’s uplifting story of diversity and persistence, Michelle Obama offered her the opportunity to speak alongside other notable individuals at the White House next week.
Looking ahead, Orruba intends to earn her doctoral degree in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies. She plans to use her fluency in Arabic paired with her knowledge of Middle Eastern culture in order to highlight women’s contributions throughout Middle Eastern history.
The original photo of Mrs. Obama with Almansouri was posted to her official Instagram account with the following encouraging message:
“We know that our greatness comes when we appreciate each other’s strengths, when we learn from each other, when we lean on each other. Because in this country, it’s never been each person for themselves. No, we’re all in this together. We always have been.”
Mad props to the FLOTUS and congratulations to Orruba Almansouri!