During her remarks at the university, Obama challenged the students to take up the hard work of reaching out to others, particularly those in need, in order to build "stronger nations and a better world."
"Because if we're going to tackle the challenges of our time, if we're going to make our world safer and healthier and more prosperous and more free, we are going to need the passion and the daring and the creativity of every last one of you," she said.
The first lady said that she and her husband were "living proof" that "potential can be found in some of the most unlikely places."
Speaking to nearly 2,000 high school and university students, Obama noted that nobody would have predicted when she or the president were their age that they would wind up in the White House.
"But we were lucky and more importantly we were blessed. We had families who believed in us. We had teachers who pushed us," she said. "We had universities that saw our potential and gave us opportunity. And we worked as hard as we could. We learned as much as we could. And as a result, we were prepared and we were poised to pursue our dreams."
The first lady wrapped up with a familiar refrain from the 2008 campaign
"We'll need you to work as hard as you can, and do as much as you can, driven by the belief that has always summed up the spirit of our youth -- three simple words: Si, se puede –- Yes, we can. Yes, we can," she said.