May 25th, 2011
02:17 PM ET
By CNN White House Producer Shawna Shepherd
LONDON (CNN) – First lady Michelle Obama confessed she didn’t see the presidency in Barack Obama’s future when they first met over 20 years ago.
Mrs. Obama jokingly responded with “absolutely not” when a high school student asked the first lady, “when you first met the president did you think he would go on to do such great things?”
After that quip she shared stories about a young man who showed a lot of promise, but admitted she didn’t think he was going to win the presidential nomination until election night.
“I always thought he would be useful, but I had no idea he was going to be president,” Mrs. Obama said to female high school students from the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School, who were participating in a day-long university “immersion experience” at the University of Oxford outside of London.
She gave the young women some insight into what attracted her to the man who would become the 44th president of the United States.
“I knew he was a special person. And it had nothing to do with his education, it had nothing to do with potential,” Mrs. Obama said.
The first lady said she was struck by the love Obama felt for his little sister and their mother, who died when they were young. She also said they joked a lot and enjoyed his humor.
“It was those kind of values that made me think, you don’t meet people like that often,” Mrs. Obama said. “And when you couple that with talent – and he’s cute.”
The two met 22 years ago when they were young attorneys at a law firm in Chicago. Mrs. Obama said she thought he was one of the smartest associates in the firm, even had the chance to clerk for the Supreme Court, but she respected the fact that he left and become a community organizer instead.
The first lady warned the high school girls that when they get older and begin dating, they shouldn’t focus on things like whether someone went to a good school or is earning a certain income. If she did that she might have missed out on a future with the president.
“It’s with the people you surround yourselves with, and that’s just as important as the school that you choose,” Mrs. Obama said.
She passed along more words of wisdom to the young women who are not much older than her own daughters, Malia and Sasha.
“Reach for partners that make you better. Do not bring people in your life who weigh you down. And trust your instincts,” the first lady said. “Good relationships feel good, they feel right.”