“Do not ever let anyone make you feel like you don’t matter, or like you don’t have a place in our American story — because you do. And you have a right to be exactly who you are.” —From her final speech as First Lady on Jan. 6, 2017

On November 4, 2008 I wasn’t old enough to vote. As the polls closed, I was celebrating more than the election of Barack H. Obama, a man who resembled so many men in my family. I was celebrating the woman right by his side. A woman who resembled so many women in my family. Finally, a First Lady who looked like me. Michelle Robinson Obama was mesmerizing. On that evening I fell in love. She was, and continues to be, more than simply Mrs. Obama. Her grace is undeniable. She can walk in a room and become so engaged with everyone that each and every person felt as though she genuinely cared. Not for a vote, not for anything in return, but because you mattered to her. I’m currently on a train headed home browsing through photos honoring the First Lady, who for nearly every black woman remains magical, on her birthday.

As the Obama administration comes to a close, an era ends, and a new one begins, I’m reflecting on more than what President Barack Obama and his staff mean to me. I’m also reflecting on the legacy of Michelle Robinson Obama. A woman who is more than a name and more than a title.

My thoughts are all over the place. My heart is torn and next steps still being finalized. One thing is clear. For myself and so many woman like myself, who related to the 44th First Lady of the United States in so many ways; hope and optimism are alive, our vision is clear, and our determination to fight and continue fighting like we’ve never fought before evident.

So happy birthday, and thank you Mrs. Obama, for being more than a First Lady. Thank you for being an inspiration to women around the world, making each and every person feel as though they belong, and providing us with our daily dose of Black Girl Magic every single day. Most importantly, however, thank you for being determined to continue fighting for those who don’t believe their voices will be heard even after you leave 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Note: This is a brief reflection on the 44th First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama and will likely be extended in the coming weeks.