NYU Shanghai Student Cited by U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama in China Speech

Mar 10 2014

First Lady of the United States of America Michelle Obama spoke in Beijing on Saturday about the importance of education as part of her official visit to China. Speaking to a group of Chinese and American students, she emphasized the transformative power of education, as well as the benefits of a cross-cultural educational experience.

The First Lady highlighted the role of education in promoting the cross-cultural understanding and communication necessary to confront global challenges.

“[S]tudying abroad isn’t just a fun way to spend a semester; it is quickly becoming the key to success in our global economy,” said the First Lady. “Because getting ahead in today’s workplaces isn’t just about getting good grades or test scores in school, which are important.  It’s also about having real experience with the world beyond your borders –- experience with languages, cultures and societies very different from your own.”

After the recognizing NYU President John Sexton who was present and characterizing NYU's educational efforts in Shanghai as "excellent,” Mrs. Obama focused on several students in the audience. She recognized a Chinese scholar who had studied in the United States, as well as several American students who chose to study in China, including Royale Nicholson, a member of NYU Shanghai’s inaugural class. NYU Shanghai is the third degree-granting campus in NYU’s global network, joining NYU in New York and NYU Abu Dhabi. It is a comprehensive liberal arts and sciences research university in the heart of Shanghai.

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Royale said she never imagined that she would go to college in China. Royale, a first generation college student, said her hard-working parents instilled in both her and her brother a strong belief in the value of education, and encouraged her to think that she should never let money stand in the way of her goals. Inspired to make the most of her university experience, the opportunity to challenge herself was part of what drew Royale to NYU Shanghai, and a scholarship helped make it possible for her to attend.

"Coming from a school where almost all of the graduating class doesn’t even go to college out of state, much less out of the country, I hope that my unexpected path to NYU Shanghai can encourage others in my school and my city to believe that their dreams don’t have to be confined to the state that they’ve lived in their entire lives,” said Royale. “They should not define or suppress their dreams because of their level of income. I know how easy it can be to slip into the illusion of inferiority. It is just amazing to me -- being able to see the dreams of people of China being realized in Shanghai literally overnight. This city oozes persistence, and inspires me to accomplish all that I can."

Royale says that studying at NYU Shanghai has also prepared her for life as a global citizen. “You learn how to create your own path in your education, and in your life, and the best way to learn how to do so is from your peers, who are from all over the world.”

According to Jeffrey Lehman, Vice Chancellor of NYU Shanghai, “Royale Nicholson exemplifies the special spirit of NYU Shanghai. Our university enables a select group of students from around the world to prepare themselves for leadership in a century when the China-U.S. partnership will be critical. Royale seized the opportunity to join our very first class, and we are all thrilled that the First Lady chose to recognize her during today's speech in Beijing."

Photo Credit: The White House