Image: Michelle Obama and other accomplished women.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais  /  AP
After meeting with young women at D.C. high schools Thursday for Women's History Month, the first lady will host a dinner for them at the White House tonight.
updated 3/19/2009 3:40:30 PM ET 2009-03-19T19:40:30

Michelle Obama recruited an all-star roster of prominent U.S. women to talk with high school students Thursday about career goals and achieving their dreams.

The first lady answered questions from 13 juniors and seniors at a high school, encouraging them to pursue a college education. She said gathering such an accomplished group of women from the worlds of science, business, entertainment and athletics for talks with young people is "one of the things I always wanted to do when I envisioned being first lady."

Mrs. Obama went on her own to the school; the others fanned out to 10 other schools in the capital and its suburbs.

The group included Grammy Award-winning singers Alicia Keyes and Sheryl Crow; actresses Debbie Allen and Phylicia Rashad, who are sisters; actresses Fran Drescher, Alfre Woodard, Kerry Washington and Tracee Ellis Ross; Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes; basketball star Lisa Leslie Lockwood; Mae Jemison, the first black woman to travel into space; Ann Dunwoody, the first female four-star general; and Debra Lee, president and chief executive of the parent company of the BET cable television network.

"Our job is simple: just be open, be honest, be real, be clear and have fun," Mrs. Obama told the 21 women, who had gathered in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House for the event, part of the first lady's celebration of March as Women's History Month.

Later Thursday, the women planned to return to the White House for dinner in the East Room with Mrs. Obama and another group of more than 100 area high school students.

"Many young people will have never set foot in this place, never could have imagined that they'd be dining in the East Room with so many great people," the first lady said. "But just imagine what they're going to feel like at the end of this day."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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