To the soon-to-be teachers in the crowd, she urged fortitude when their students don't respond to their lessons — and urged the same fortitude for the business students when their bosses pile work on them.
Those are the times that will "force you to claw and scratch and fight" to endure, she said.
The White House said the first lady was drawn to EKU as part of her initiative to support veterans and military families. EKU has gained national recognition for its efforts to help veterans advance their education, including its Veterans Success Center, which provides one-stop-assistance for advising, counseling and job placement services.
A campus group took potshots at Obama administration policies ahead of Mrs. Obama's visit, handing out fliers bemoaning the challenging job prospects for the new graduates.
"Good luck landing your first job," said the flier from the EKU chapter of Young Americans for Liberty. "Only 47 percent of you will be able to find a job in your preferred field, so I hope you're still on good terms with your parents."