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Former aide to Michelle Obama visits ISU

Written by on November 6, 2023

NORMAL, Ill. – Former aide to First Lady Michelle Obama and current self-made millionaire Lola Tomorrow attended Illinois State University as a guest speaker on November 2.

She attended her alma mater to speak at the third installation of the four-part series hosted by the Multicultural Center, “Tomorrow’s Entrepreneur.”

The event allowed Tomorrow to share her winding path to becoming the accomplished woman she is today with the aspiring business owners in attendance.

Her journey started in Normal at ISU. While her father wanted her to be a lawyer, doctor or engineer, she did not picture herself in any of these careers. After negotiating with her father, both decided she would major in accounting. Tomorrow, however, quickly learned this was not going to work.

She elected to continue her studies as undeclared until she was introduced to event planning. Tomorrow’s education was put on halt, though, as she was on academic probation her first semester, and dismissed the second.

After begging the President of the university at the time, Al Bowman, to give her a second chance, she was able to return, serve as president of an RSO and eventually graduate.

Upon graduation, Tomorrow worked two jobs before receiving an interview for an event manager with the National Parent-Teacher Association, which she was not expecting to even receive a call back from after applying.

“The woman interviewing me says to me, ‘you know, I know you’re not qualified. You’re really great. But it’s something about you, and I think you can do the job.’ And, so, she hired me,” Tomorrow said. 

It is in this position that Tomorrow’s opportunity to work for the First Lady arose.

In 2010, Michelle Obama launched her “Let’s Move!” campaign and desired to work with the NPTA. At an event for the NPTA, Tomorrow, who always carries a pocket steamer noticed a wrinkled table skirt.

“The only thing I kept thinking in my head is people are going to see this on the news and they’re going to see those wrinkles and they’re going to think ‘who was the event planner behind this event?’,” she said. 

With this, she crawled upon the stage and steamed the skirt until she was escorted away by the Secret Service.

Following the event’s conclusion, Michelle Obama’s team approached Tomorrow to offer her a job. They believed someone with her dedication and attention to detail was necessary for the First Lady’s events.

After sharing how she earned the job, she then shared various tips and advice with attendees. She preached the importance of therapy and mental health, specifically in entrepreneurs as she believes the career is extremely difficult.

She highlighted networking, the possibilities that present when someone opens a door for you, as well as picturing yourself accomplishing the goals you wish to achieve.

She said, “You cannot create what you cannot see.”

Tomorrow also spoke on the significance of using your fears as fuel.

“Even as a successful CEO, I’m still a work in progress, but I’m also dope at the same time. See, I thought you had to be one or the other; you only could be dope or have to be a work in progress, but no,” she said. “I’m a work in progress and I’m still going to change this entire world, all at the same time.”

As the panel drew to a close, attendees were then invited to participate in a question-and-answer session with the entrepreneur.

The final part of “Tomorrow’s Entrepreneur” will allow students to network with entrepreneurs that are also former Redbirds. The event will take place on November 30.

The eight-week course, “Tomorrow’s Entrepreneur Institute” will launch in Spring 2024 and assist students in the development of their entrepreneurial journeys. The application deadline is December 4.