Michelle Obama Tells Students 'People like Me and Barack Are Stepping out of the Way to Allow You Guys to Take the Lead'

Michelle Obama has urged high-school students to aim high in life, insisting higher education would pave the way for them to become successful in the future.

Speaking to approximately 9,000 incoming college students at the sixth annual College Signing Day, the former first lady said they would represent the future leaders and could inspire younger generations themselves.

"You are the future," she told the audience at the Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus in Westwood Village, Los Angeles.

"People like me and [former President] Barack [Obama] are stepping out of the way, to allow you guys to take the lead and in order to be those leaders you've got to be ready.

"You've got to have the knowledge and the discipline, you have to have guts."

Donning a Compton College T-shirt to underline the importance of community colleges to the fabric of the U.S's educational system, Obama praised the students for being accepted into higher education.

"You overcame so many hurdles, it must have spelt special to receive those acceptance letters," she said.

"You're about to make the best investment you can possibly make."

However, she warned the road facing the students was paved with difficulties, highlighting the importance of being resilient.

"None of us does this alone," she explained.

"If you stumble and stumbling happens to all of us, I want you to get back up."

"It's not about not failing, anybody who's achieved anything has failed and failed again. It's not the failure, it's the ability to bounce back from that failure."

Obama then shared some insight about her personal experiences, revealing she was told to curtail her ambitions when she was at college and that the same thing happened to her husband.

"I had someone tell me that I shouldn't reach too high," she said. "They told me that I wanted too much for myself, I should dream a little smaller."

She urged students to pay little attention to those who will seek to curb their enthusiasm, suggesting instead they had to tell the "doubters to make room" for them.

"In those times—because they will come up—you have to ask yourselves whether you're gonna believe the haters or whether you're gonna believe the own truth of your story," she added.

The sixth edition of the event, which was created by Obama in 2014 and is hosted by her Better Make Room and Reach Higher initiatives, was also the first time it was staged on the West Coast.

The former first lady was joined on stage by a series of celebrity guests including a host of NBA and NFL players as well as John Legend, Usher, Conan O'Brien, Lea Michele, Elizabeth Banks and Don Cheadle.

Michelle Obama
Former US First Lady Michelle Obama gestures as he stands on stage to speak about her autobiography 'Becoming' at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on April 17. Remko de Waal/AFP/Getty Images
Michelle Obama Tells Students 'People like Me and Barack Are Stepping out of the Way to Allow You Guys to Take the Lead' | U.S.