The young women grew up in different parts of Morocco, never thinking they would meet a first lady of the U.S., be invited to the White House or participate in a movie premiere.

And yet all that happened to them — because of their love of science, technology and learning.

Here are three young women who met Michelle Obama in 2015, when the first lady was visiting Morocco and Liberia as part of her Let Girls Learn campaign. The following year, they and 41 other young women whom Obama spoke with in the two countries were invited to the White House. Together they participated in a global conversation on the importance of investing in the education and health of girls worldwide and watched the one-hour documentary on that subject, We Will Rise.

Here’s how these three plan to make a difference in their communities in Morocco:

Karima Lakouz said she grew up in a family where expectations were high, for both her and her brother. “I will finish my education and pursue an electrical engineering degree,” she said.

She wants to raise awareness in families about education. “That’s where everything starts. Parents, they’re the most important thing.”

“When I was 12, my parents wouldn’t allow me to go to school because it was really far away from my village” outside Marrakech, Fouzya Toukart said.

She approached a teacher and told him she wanted to go to school like all the boys. “He said he saw something in my eyes. I was the only girl, and I never failed a class. Now my dad tells me, ‘You are a girl, and that equals 100 boys,'” said Toukart, who graduated from a university in Marrakech, majoring in English.

Rania Bahammou smiling, with text overlaid (State Dept.)
Rania Bahammou at the White House “Let Girls Learn” event in Washington (State Dept.)

Rania Bahammou says she was shy at school. Then she was selected to participate in a cultural exchange program in Scottsdale, Arizona, that boosted her confidence.

She says she has a bright younger cousin she wants to encourage “to be whatever she wants to be and to be the best at it.”

“I will work hard to become what I want to become, not just for me, but for her as well,” said Bahammou, who is studying political science.

“Small successes accumulate and create a lifetime achievement,” she said.