On Wednesday, First lady Melania Trump received the “Women of Distinction” award from Palm Beach Atlantic University, receiving push-back from students and alumni.
“As the first lady of the United States, it is a great honor to serve the people of this incredible country,” first lady Melania said at a luncheon in Florida, where she received the award given to women “who cherish community and family and want to preserve these ideals for others.”
Students and alumni of the private Christian school, however, cried foul since the distinction is typically given to two women who champion local charities. Melania Trump changed her permanent residence to Palm Beach, Florida, in 2019.
“This award has historically gone to women whose character and impact in Palm Beach has shaped the culture of our home, and I have not been convinced that the first lady’s character or impact here is worthy of that recognition,” Graysen Boehning, a senior studying biology and zoology at the school, told the Hill.
Tyler Whitehead, the president of the school’s College Democrats, said that many people on campus were “disappointed” that first lady Melania won.
“The vast majority of students and faculty that I have spoken to about the decision were disappointed by what seems to be a politically motivated move on the university’s part,” Whitehead said.
The event co-chairwoman released a glowing statement when it was first announced in January that first lady Melania would receive the award, saying she “is a perfect example of a Woman of Distinction.”
“Our first lady is an exquisite human being, a magnificent wife and life partner, a superb mother, and an outstanding first lady who represents us brilliantly in the United States and worldwide,” event co-chairwoman Eileen Burns said. “Melania is a perfect example of a Woman of Distinction, and we are most proud to honor her.”
During the event, first lady Melania Trump touted her “Be Best” initiative, which was launched in 2018 to promote the well-being of children through encouraging the eradication of trends such as cyberbullying and opioid use.
“When we teach our children to cherish our values and care for each other, they are better prepared to carry on Americans’ legacy of compassion, service, and patriotism,” she said.