A look back at Michelle Obama’s 8 years in the White House

She has been on the cover of Vogue three times

(CNN) – Michelle Obama has been a unique First Lady, using her star power to support her causes, and becoming one of the most powerful women in her party.

Michelle Obama’s first steps onto that enormous, exhilarating, terrifying national political stage were reluctant and cautious.

Remember the family back then? On the campaign trail, young Malia and Sasha talked about the weirdness of seeing their parents in magazines. Malia said it was “Pretty cool because I’m used to seeing important people like Angelina Jolie.”

The beginning was not so easy, moving into the White House, where the bulletproof windows can’t be opened, with secret service always there.

Michelle recently described that first day, saying, “I will never forget that winter morning as I watched our girls, just seven and ten 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?’”

And she did face criticism even before the election. She was quoted saying, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.” Soon after that, it was portrayed on a New Yorker cover.

How far she’s come. She has been on the cover of Vogue three times. She’s long since found her footing. By her husband’s second term, Michelle emerged much more comfortable in public. Polished, but loosening up in more ways than one.

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

America has seen Michelle Obama, Harvard educated lawyer and mother, use her humor, her star power, and even her viral meme power, to shed light on what it’s like to raise, now, teenagers in these circumstances.

As her time in office drew down, the once reluctant, now determined First Lady drew upon her sweeping popularity to enter the campaign trail as one of the most powerful voices for her party, earning her the nickname, ‘the closer.’

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