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Malia Obama to take year off before starting Harvard

Published:Sunday | May 1, 2016 | 12:00 AM
In this Thursday, April 7, photo, President Barack Obama jokes with his daughter Malia Obama as they walk to board Air Force One from the Marine One helicopter, as they leave Chicago en route to Los Angeles. The White House announced yesterday that Malia Obama will take a year off after high school and attend Harvard University in 2017.


President Barack Obama's elder daughter, 17- year-old Malia, will take a year off after graduating high school in June before attending Harvard University in 2017, the president and his wife said yesterday in a long-awaited announcement.

Harvard encourages admitted students to defer for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way. The student must not enroll in a programme at another college that would grant that student a degree.

Malia is a senior at Sidwell Friends, an exclusive private school in the District of Columbia that helped educate another first daughter, Chelsea Clinton, in the 1990s. Malia's younger sister, Sasha, 14, is a freshman at Sidwell. Malia is set to graduate in June. She turns 18 on the fourth of July.

Obama has spoken publicly about dreading the day when Malia leaves for college, and the decision for Malia to take a gap year could keep her closer to home as her family prepares for another major transition next year, leaving the White House and returning to normal life. Obama plans to live in Washington for a few more years so Sasha can finish high school. The president and his wife, Michelle, still own a home in Chicago.

Malia, who wants to be a filmmaker, spent last summer in New York City interning on the set of HBO's Girls, starring Lena Dunham. In the summer of 2014, she worked as a production assistant in California on Extant, a now-canceled CBS sci-fi drama that starred Halle Berry.




The president turned down an invitation to speak at Malia's Sidwell graduation, saying he would be too emotional.

"I'm going to be sitting there with dark glasses, sobbing," he told Ellen DeGeneres during an appearance on her talk show.

Obama grew up without his father, who was born in Kenya and is now deceased, and has spoken of his desire to be there for his children. The bond between Obama and his children was readily apparent as he often was seen holding hands with either daughter getting on or off the presidential aircraft or on the family's walks through Lafayette Park to attend church.

Malia joined her father earlier this month on a three-day trip that started at the University of Chicago Law School, where he once taught constitutional law, to discuss his stalled nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. From Chicago, they flew to Los Angeles and San Francisco, where the president attended fundraisers and played golf.

"Both of my daughters are wonderful people. Malia's more than ready to leave, but I'm not ready for her to leave," Obama told DeGeneres. "She's one of my best friends. It's going to be hard for me not to have her around all the time, but she's ready to go. She's just a really smart, capable person and she's ready to make her own way."

The president and first lady earned law degrees at Harvard. She appears to have disregarded her parents' advice. The president and first lady have said college-bound students shouldn't limit themselves to just a handful of elite schools.

"The one thing I've been telling my daughters is that I don't want them to choose a name," Mrs Obama said in a recent interview with Seventeen magazine. "I don't want them to think, 'Oh, I should go to these top schools'. We live in a country where there are thousands of amazing universities, so, the question is: What's going to work for you?"