Michelle Obama during live video saluting Chance the Rapper at BET Awards.
Michelle Obama during live video saluting Chance the Rapper at BET Awards. Image via YouTube.com

Former first lady Michelle Obama will visit UCLA Wednesday, joined by an array of celebrities, to celebrate 10,000 high school seniors and transfer students who have committed to pursue higher education.

The celebration of College Signing Day is part of Obama’s Reach Higher campaign, which she started in the White House in 2014 as an effort to encourage students to pursue higher education, “whether at a professional training program, a community college or a four-year college or university.”

Obama has said she started the campaign in response to her own experiences, saying she never received encouragement from school counselors or others to strive for higher education. But she went on to graduate from Princeton University and Harvard Law School.

The Reach Higher campaign is designed “to inspire every student, especially first-generation and low-income students, to take charge of their future and complete an education past high school.”

In addition to headline-grabbing events like College Signing Day, the campaign also works to raise awareness about the availability of education grants and scholarships and to increase the number of school counselors to provide support to high school students. According to the Reach Higher website, students who meet with a school counselor to discuss financial aid or college are three times more likely to attend college and seven times more likely to apply for financial aid.

Roughly 10,000 high school seniors and transfer students are expected to attend Wednesday’s event at Pauley Pavilion. University of California President Janet Napolitano is also expected, along with celebrities including Usher, Don Cheadle, Bebe Rexha, Patton Oswalt, Elizabeth Banks, Kelly Rowland, Lea Michele, Eva Longoria and Conan O’Brien.

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