Ending months of speculation, the White House has announced that Malia Obama will attend Harvard starting in Fall 2017.
A statement from the office of the First Lady reads: “The President and Mrs. Obama announced today that their daughter Malia will attend Harvard University in the fall of 2017 as a member of the Class of 2021.”
The statement says Malia, the elder of the two Obama daughters, will take a “gap year” before starting at Harvard – a break that the school encourages in order to “travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way.”
Both Barack and Michelle Obama graduated from Harvard Law School.
Malia’s college application process and decision have long been the subject of rumors. She was reportedly seen wearing a Harvard shirt during her school’s college signing day, setting off a flurry of excitement from the Harvard community.
According to The New York Times, she toured a range of schools, including at least six Ivies: “Brown, Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale,” along with Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley. The Times reports she also visited New York University, Tufts, Barnard and Wesleyan.
The Los Angeles Times reports that her grades and test scores have “been a closely guarded secret,” though as the newspaper reports, Obama has said she is a “hard worker.”
President Obama has been openly emotional about Malia getting ready to depart for college. “Malia is more than ready to leave, but I’m not ready for her to leave,” he said during a February interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
He adds that he turned down a request to speak at Malia’s graduation from Sidwell Friends School in Washington this spring:
“I was asked if I would speak at her graduation and I said absolutely not. Because I’m going to be sitting there with dark glasses, sobbing. She’s one of my best friends, and it’s going to be hard for me not to have her around all the time. But she’s ready to go. You can tell, she’s just a really smart, capable person and she’s ready to make her own way.”
Malia has shown an interest in filmmaking and had an internship on the set of HBO’s show “Girls” last summer.
Other children of world leaders have attended the school. According to The New Yorker, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s daughter is a recent Harvard graduate. The magazine reported that she lived “under an assumed name,” with only a handful of people aware of her identity.
Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of the president of Uzbekistan, also attended Harvard.