First lady Melania Trump is being recognized by Palm Beach Atlantic University as its Woman of Distinction this year, with event organizers saying she 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.”
A spokesperson for the private Christian school said the award recognizes select women for their “charitable leadership of organizations that support the arts, education, healthcare and other community initiatives.”
The representative said it’s the first time the steering committee tasked with selecting honorees has chosen to recognize a first lady with the award.
As part of the honor, Melania will also be recognized next month at a Women of Distinction luncheon at The Breakers resort, proceeds of which will be put towards a scholarship fund for female students at the university.
“As a Christ-first independent university, Palm Beach Atlantic emphasizes learning, leadership and service with its excellent academics and character-strengthening initiatives such as its nationally recognized community service program called Workship,” the school spokeswoman said.
“In fact, Workship, a coined term combining ‘work’ and ‘worship’ dates back to the University’s founding in 1968,” she continued. “To date, students have provided more than 3.5 million hours of volunteer service to non-profits, schools and churches. Palm Beach Atlantic’s emphasis on encouraging the potential of each person aligns with Mrs. Trump’s platform as First Lady.”
Eileen Burns, one of the chairwomen behind the event, told the paper that “Melania is a perfect example of a Woman of Distinction and we are most proud to honor her.”
“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,” she also said.
“First ladies define the history of our country,” Frances Fisher, who also will be chairing this year’s event, told the paper. “We are honored to recognize Mrs. Trump as a Woman of Distinction and the only first lady since Mrs. Kennedy to be a Palm Beach resident. This will be a truly memorable event.”
Melania launched her Be Best campaign in May 2018, focusing on the “three pillars” of children’s safety—well-being, social media use and the opioid crisis.
At times, the first lady has been criticized for fronting the campaign while failing to speak out against her husband President Donald Trump’s comments.
In September, #BeBest trended on Twitter after President Trump mocked the then 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg, with social media users accusing her of being “silent” on her husband’s bullying of the teenager.
When she did make a rare public statement condemning Stanford University professor Pamela Karlan’s comment about her son Barron Trump while testifying to the House Judiciary Committee in December, she was again accused of being a hypocrite after declaring “children that should be kept out of politics.” Many Twitter users took the opportunity to remind the first lady of President Trump’s controversial separation policy which saw thousands of children removed from their parents at the border and held in detention center “cages.”
On April 20, 2011, Melania appeared on the Joy Behar Show and backed up her husband’s claim that Obama wasn’t born in the state of Hawaii like live birth records suggest, therefore making him constitutionally ineligible to be president.
“It’s not only Donald who wants to see [Obama’s birth certificate], it’s American people who voted for him and who didn’t vote for him. They want to see that,” she argued.
Behar fired back saying that the birth certificate had already been on display and all over the internet.
“We feel it’s different than birth certificate,” Melania responded.
Many see Trump’s birtherism claims as racist due to the fact that no other U.S. president was ever questioned about his birthplace until Obama, the first black U.S. president, took office.
Melania has yet to apologize for her role in pushing the conspiracy theory.