Contributions to the United States from the East Wing


Dylan Drury '22

The role of First Lady includes raising awareness and implementing lasting change for a specific issue.

The First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS) position requires much more than hosting dinners and decorating the White House for the holidays.  Since 1789, there have been 48 First Ladies who each focus on a particular issue that is important to them.  The two most recent former First Ladies, Mrs. Michelle Obama and Mrs. Melania Trump, spent their time on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. finding solutions regarding children’s health and wellness issues.  The current First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, plans on continuing her work of advocating for military members and their families from her time as Second First Lady, according to

Mrs. Obama, the first African-American First Lady, was born in Chicago, Illinois.  She was a student at Princeton University and later attended Harvard Law School.  After graduating, she began working for the Chicago office of the law firm Sidley Austin, where she met her husband, former President Barack Obama, according to

Dr. Jill Biden and Mrs. Michelle Obama discuss the Joining Forces campaign.  Courtesy of Mr. Chuck Kennedy

When Mr. Obama began his work in the Oval Office, the First Lady began her work as well.  In 2010, Mrs. Obama created the “Let’s Move!” campaign to provide healthier food options across schools nationwide with the hopes of fighting childhood obesity, according to  Mrs. Obama used her platform to inspire children to become more active and to inform parents about the importance of raising their children with a healthy lifestyle.

“When I do these things, I’m thinking, ‘If people see me — the first lady — with my shoes off, running around with kids, sweating, jumping around, making a fool out of yourself, then maybe more moms and dads will say, ‘I can do that, and actually that looks fun,'” Mrs. Obama said, according to

Dr. Melissa Otero, School Psychologist and Lead Wellness Strand of the Department of Student Support Services at Sacred Heart Greenwich, spoke on the importance of children developing good habits early on and living healthy lifestyles.

“The habits that children develop early on often carry over into adolescence and eventually, adulthood,” Dr. Otero said.  “It’s important for children to have a healthy start in life to give them the best chance of learning and developing healthy habits later in life.  This includes eating a variety of foods, finding activities they enjoy, learning to move their bodies through activities like sports or dance.  All children eventually become adults, and when we can help kids learn healthy habits, whether it’s related to eating well and being active, or learning how to be kind, helpful, and productive members of society, we are investing in a better future for us all.”

In 2011, Mrs. Obama partnered with Dr. Biden to begin “Joining Forces.”  This initiative called on Americans to support former and active service members through education and employment according to  In 2015, Mr. and Mrs. Obama teamed up to begin “Let Girls Learn,” which benefits girls around the globe by inspiring them to attend school.  Their mission was to empower young girls and give them the skills they need to succeed, according to

Former First Lady Mrs. Trump was born in Novo Mesto, Yugoslavia, and briefly attended the University of Ljubljana in Ljubljana, Slovenia before beginning her modeling career, according to brittanica.comIn 1995, her modeling career brought her to New York City where she met her husband, former President Donald Trump.  In 2006, she became a United States citizen and continued her career in the modeling industry.  When Mr. Trump won the 2016 election, Mrs. Trump began advocating for children by discouraging bullying, excessive social media use, and drug abuse.  In 2018, she began her campaign, “BE BEST,” where she promoted a world of kindness for children.

Dr. Otero emphasized the importance of bullying prevention in schools as a means of curbing its negative effects.

Mrs. Melania Trump speaks about the “BE BEST” campaign at the White House.  Courtesy of Mr. Doug Mills

“Children who are bullied are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, decreased academic achievement, loss of self-esteem, physical symptoms, such as stomachaches or other physical ailments, and in some cases, increased risk of suicide,” Dr. Otero said.  “Preventing bullying is a community-wide effort.  Teachers, students, and parents are crucial in the prevention of bullying.  First and foremost, adults need to model behavior that is kind, loving, and compassionate.”

Mrs. Trump focused on improving the overall mental health of children through teaching them about the dangers of social media and drug abuse, according to  Mrs. Trump’s research on these issues came from her visits to hospitals, schools, and organizations.  She also traveled to meet children and their families all over the world, according to

In her campaign, Mrs. Trump emphasized the damaging nature of drug use and the importance of early intervention.

“This can happen to any of us,” Mrs. Trump said, according to  “Drug addiction can take your friends, neighbors, or your family.  No state has been spared.”

Since President Joe Biden’s inauguration, First Lady Dr. Biden is resuming her work from her terms as Second Lady.  Dr. Biden was born in Hammonton, New Jersey, and is a graduate of the University of Delaware.  She then became an English teacher and reading specialist, according to  As Second Lady, Dr. Biden was an advocate for military families and girls’ education, according to  She worked in partnership with Mrs. Obama on the “Joining Forces” campaign to help active military members, veterans, and their families reintegrate successfully after returning from deployment, according to

Senior Sydney O’Connor, co-head of the League of Women Voters Club, has hopes for what Dr. Biden will achieve during her time as First Lady.

“During her time in the White House, I hope that Dr. Jill Biden advocates for educational equity in the United States by improving schools in impoverished areas,” Sydney said.  “The role of the First Lady is so important as they have the opportunity to be a female leader and political activist.”

Dr. Biden values her career as an educator and plans on continuing to teach throughout her time in the White House as a professor at Northern Virginia Community College, according to  She will also advocate for military members and their families in remembrance of her late son, Mr. Beau Biden.

“I’m a working woman,” Dr. Biden said, according to  “[Teaching is] my passion.  That’s what I love doing.  That has been my career and really a major focus in my life, so I feel like I could handle it and do everything else that first ladies want to do.”

Featured Image by Lindsay Benza ’23