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First Lady Promotes Education During NYC Visit

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The first lady came to the city Thursday to deliver a speech on education, but first, she met with a group of local students who are focused on global issues. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

High school student Jania Nelson was supposed to welcome the First Lady to New York. Instead, she burst into tears.

"I cried. I really cried. I just could not hold in my tears," Nelson said. "It was just so amazing meeting someone so high in power, especially, like, a woman that's so high in power and I can relate to her because she's both African-American and female, so I have someone to look up to."

She wasn't the only one overcome with emotion. Several of the two dozen middle- and high-school students said they became speechless, even teary-eyed, when Michelle Obama stopped by the education nonprofit Global Kids Thursday.

"I was trying to hold my breath," said student Alaya Shearman. "It was like, I don't know how to explain it. I didn't know what to say. There are no words for it."

It was the students who asked the first lady to come. Two of them met her at an education summit in Washington, D.C. last month.

"They invited me. They were bold enough," Obama said.

"We asked her to come to the office and she actually did," said student Annie Willis. "So being bold is the right move to be."

That's the kind of confidence Global Kids said it tries to instill in the 14,000 students it serves each year in New York and D.C. It's a youth empowerment organization that works with students on projects related to international relations, social justice and climate change.

"The first lady said to me that she was so impressed with the kinds of sophisticated issues that our young people are working on," said Evie Hantzopoulos, executive director of Global Kids, Inc.

Obama has been shifting her focus over the past few months from health and fitness to education, an issue where she's been using her personal story, as a Chicago public school student and first-generation college graduate, to connect, inspire and buttress her advocacy.

At the end of her visit, the first lady said she'd like to formally invite all the students to visit her in the White House. She later told the executive director it was a very real invitation. The students, unsurprisingly, all said they plan to take her up on it.

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