The rise of Michelle Obama: A look back at her 8 years as First Lady

First Lady Michelle Obama walks on stage during the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Monday, July 25, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(CNN) — As First Lady, Michelle Obama has used her star power to support her causes and become one of the most powerful women in the Democratic Party.

Her first steps on to that enormous, exhilirating, terrifying national political stage eight years ago were reluctant and cautious. And the beginning was not so easy — moving into the White House, where the bulletproof windows can’t be opened, and with Secret Service agents always there.

“I will never forget that winter morning as I watched our girls, just seven and 10 years old, pile into those black SUVs with all those big men with guns. And I saw their little faces pressed up against the window, and the only thing I could think was, ‘What have we done?'”

But now, look how far she’s come. She’s been on the cover of Vogue magazine three times and has long since found her footing and her causes.

By her husband’s second term, the First Lady emerged much more comfortable in public — polished, but loosening up at times as well.

Michelle Obama seemed to not only accept being in the public eye, and the constraints of the White House, but to embrace the opportunity to let her voice be heard.

As her time in office drew down, the Harvard educated lawyer and mother drew down upon her sweeping popularity to enter the campaign trail as one of the powerful voices for her political party, earning her nickname “The Closer.”

In her final speech as First Lady, her emotion raw, Michelle Obama once again urged Americans not to give up, celebrate diversity, and use education and talent to better their nation.

“Thank you for everything you do for our kids and for our country. Being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life and I hope I’ve made you proud,” she said.

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