Michelle Obama Commencement Speech Graduating Class Bowie State University

In 2013, Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States at the time, gave a commencement speech to the graduating class at Bowie State University, Maryland's oldest historically black university.

In her speech, she expressed the significant importance of a good education and the relevance of hard work in the African American community and does not mention and political issues her husband is facing at the office as a president. Michelle Obama's use of rhetorical appeals and her alertness of the audience makes her speech compelling and powerful.

Obama uses all three forms of appeal; logos, pathos, and ethos in her Commencement Ad-dress. Ethos is the form that is used the most. Using ethos makes her seem trustworthy and more genuine about her perspective on education.

An example of ethos is when she tells a story from her childhood about how her parents never went to college but were determined to get her and her brother to college, despite their financial difficulties. Pathos is also quite prominent simply because of the number of emotional, personal narratives she includes in her speech, most of which have depressing beginnings and happy endings.

Logos is less prominent than the other two, but we still see a few clear examples such as "Just look at the statistics. People who earn a bachelor's degree or higher make nearly three times more money than high school dropouts, and they're far less likely to be unemployed. A recent study even found that African American women with a college degree live an average of six and a half years longer than those without."(ll. 186-195)

Her use of both rhetorical devices and appeal forms helps to gain the audiences' and readers' trust and draws them in, engaging them.

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