UC Merced students want Michelle Obama for commencement speaker

The blue of the background is just a shade or two off from the dress she wore at the August Democratic National Convention.

The pearl necklace on the front of the Valentine's Day card is draped in the shape of a heart – classic and elegant.

The drawing of the graduation cap in the middle of the string of white pearls may strike the only dissonant note on the glossy card cover.

But does it stand out more than a vision of first lady Michelle Obama speaking at UC Merced?

These students hope not. A group of nearly 100 student leaders at the college campus have been working diligently on a campaign to bring the first lady to Merced for the 2009 graduation ceremony.

They printed 2,000 Valentine's Day cards with the pearl-and-heart design. All of them will be addressed by hand "to incorporate as many personal touches as possible," student body president Yaasha Sabba said. They have collected nearly 700 signed cards so far.

Two other students, Sam Fong and Efferman Ezell, have spent hours crafting personalized letters to big players in the Obamas' lives. People such as Michelle Obama's brother and Charles Ogletree, Merced native and mentor to both Obamas at Harvard Law School. (Ogletree delivered the keynote address at the campus' opening ceremony in 2005.)

All three of the activists are among the 415 students of the class of 2009, the first group of students to attend UC Merced for all four years of their undergraduate educations.

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