On a recent 60 Minutes episode, Michelle Obama's brother and mother, Craig and Marian Robinson, were asked if there had been some kind of magic dust sprinkled in the Robinson household to create two Princeton University graduates who would go on to even bigger things.
"There were lots of families that did exactly the same thing," Marian Robinson said, laughing at the thought of magic dust. "That was the norm. You raised your children to stress education."
The Robinsons lived on Chicago's South Side, not in poverty but not rich, either. Not only did the parents send two children to an Ivy League school, but the children graduated.
That's the seed that co-chairwomen Angela Roberts and Jill Chenault Wilson hope to plant in the minds of parents and students Saturday during the "LIFT: Lifting and Impacting Futures Today" conference at Transylvania University.
Hosted by the Lexington Urban League Young Professionals for the fifth year, the conference is free, and a continental breakfast and lunch will be served.
"Just bring your body and your mind, and we'll do the rest," said Chenault Wilson, director of the William Wells Brown Community Center.
This year's event is "jam-packed" with activities and information for middle school and high school students and their parents, said Angela Roberts, project associate for GEAR UP Kentucky II at Fayette County Public Schools.
Parents will be given access to the College Info Road Show, the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority's mobile unit, which is equipped with computers connected to the Internet and is geared to help parents or students research colleges and financial-aid resources.
"It is a research warehouse for parents and students on wheels," Roberts said. "It is phenomenal."
While parents are doing that, their children, separated into middle and high school groups, will take part in work sessions.
Middle school students will learn how to keep their minds and bodies healthy, how to survive middle school, and what they need to know to land their dream job.
High school students will choose from seven work sessions including "Swag Surfin': The Educated Athlete," "Can't Tell Me Nothing — Stress Management for the Overachiever," and "I'm the Future: College Planning for 11th and 12th Grades."
The conference also will feature an assembly to address underage drinking as well as the local launch of KnowHow2Go, a national campaign to get low-income students to pursue college degrees.
At noon, parents and students will be reunited for lunch and some high-energy entertainment called Youth Explosion. And two book scholarships will be awarded.
"It will be a day when they are the center of attention, and when they leave out of there, they will have the knowledge of what they have to do to succeed in life," Roberts said.
It's that norm that Marian Robinson was talking about. It's the support, the encouragement, the direction that parents and students might need to push toward a better future.
"We will give them a set of keys," Chenault Wilson said. "It will be up to them to unlock all the doors."
Parents need to understand that children are not always going to do what they need to do, Roberts said.
"You need to be the driving force for yourself," she said. "You can lead the horse to water, but you can't make it drink. We will get you to the water, but whether you drink it, that's up to you."
It's not too late even if the students are seniors, she said. They'll just have to dig deeper. As an added incentive, students who remain until the closing session will be eligible for a laptop computer, along with several other door prizes donated by sponsors.
Yes, it all takes hard work and staying focused to succeed, but success is yours to be had.
The philosophy in the Robinson house, Marian Robinson said, was, "If it can be done, you can do it. It is a matter of choice."
We can start planting that seed in the minds of our children by attending the conference Saturday.