First Lady of the United States Melania Trump is the wife of President Donald J. Trump and the mother of Barron Trump. She is the second First Lady born outside of the United States, and she is the only First Lady to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. And like the First Ladies before her, Melania Trump will make her mark on history.
Melania Trump was born on April 26, 1970 in Slovenia. At age 16, she began what would soon become a highly successful modeling career, appearing in many high profile ad campaigns and working with some of the best photographers in the fashion industry.
In 1996, Mrs. Trump moved to New York and ten years later, she proudly became a United States Citizen. Mrs. Trump has always been an active member of her community. In 2005, she was Honorary Chairwoman for the Martha Graham Dance Company. That same year, she was awarded Goodwill Ambassador by the American Red Cross—a role she served in for four years. Mrs. Trump served five years as Honorary Chairwoman for the Boys’ Club of New York and was named Woman of the Year in 2006 by the Police Athletic League. Mrs. Trump has participated in National Love Our Children Day and National Child Abuse Prevention month, ringing the closing bell at NASDAQ.
In 2010, Mrs. Trump was the Chairwoman for the American Heart Association, which raised $1.7 million for research. That same year she launched her own jewelry collection.
While Melania Trump became a household name in modeling and a contributing member of her community, she is first and foremost a mother and wife, and in 2017, Melania Trump made the White House and Washington home for her family.
In her role as First Lady, Mrs. Trump focuses her time on the many issues affecting children. An unwavering characteristic of the First Lady is her aptitude for showing love and compassion in all that she does. Mrs. Trump spends much of her time meeting with children who are patients at hospitals and care centers. Recently, she took valentines to the Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Over the Easter holiday, she made a surprise visit to St. Mary’s Medical Center in Palm Beach, Florida, bringing Easter baskets to the children.
Following the devastating hurricanes last year, Mrs. Trump visited Texas to meet with families that suffered greatly under Hurricane Harvey. In the wake of two horrendous mass shootings, Mrs. Trump traveled with her husband to Las Vegas and Parkland to be with the victims and families in their times of need. Internationally, Mrs. Trump has visited several hospitals and schools. One of her most memorable visits being at the Pediatric Hospital Bambino Gesu in the Vatican City, where she met a boy who had been waiting for a new heart.
Upon arrival in Belgium the following day, Mrs. Trump learned that the hospital had found a transplant for the boy–Mrs. Trump celebrated the news in a press statement and said “my own heart is filled with joy over the news.”
As First Lady, Mrs. Trump has made multiple visits to schools—both foreign and domestic. From participating in a Viking huddle class, which focuses on emotional learning at Orchard Lake Middle School in Michigan, to taking the Queen of Jordan to Washington, D.C.’s first public charter school for girls at Excel Academy in Southeast, Mrs. Trump is always bringing children to the forefront of her agenda.
While traveling abroad, Mrs. Trump visited the American International School in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with Education Minister Ahmed Al Eissa, and took a calligraphy lesson with local children at Kyobashi Tsukiji Elementary School with Mrs. Abe while visiting Japan. Earlier this spring, Mrs. Trump invited a group of local students to the White House so she could talk with them, hear their stories, and understand the issues they are challenged with today. Mrs. Trump addresses those issues each opportunity she gets. From Governors’ spouses’ luncheons to the United Nations General Assembly, Mrs. Trump puts the emphasis on children and how we can protect them, teach them, and empower them.
In the midst of the opioid epidemic, Mrs. Trump has utilized her platform as First Lady to raise awareness about the dangers of opioid abuse—notably the devastating effects it has on infants and unborn babies.
Mrs. Trump traveled to Huntington, West Virginia, where she visited Lily’s Place, the Nation’s first nonprofit infant recovery center that prioritizes the whole family to ensure infants born dependent on drugs are given the best opportunity to thrive. More recently, in February, Mrs. Trump traveled to Ohio to visit Cincinnati Children’s, a leading pediatric hospital where she learned more about the ongoing research around neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS)—a harmful result of drug abuse in pregnant mothers.
Mrs. Trump has participated in multiple opioid summits and continues to work with the Administration on raising the awareness of opioid abuse and how we can better protect children from it.
On May 7, Mrs. Trump launched BE BEST—an awareness campaign focused entirely around the well-being of children. The campaign has three pillars, which represent key areas of concern for Mrs. Trump: well-being, which includes the social and emotional health of children; social media, and understanding both the positive and negative effects it has on our children; and opioid abuse, and how to protect our most vulnerable from the effects of drug abuse while educating parents about the detrimental effects of opioids.
After the launch, the First Lady is dedicated to carrying out her BE BEST campaign.
“It remains our generation’s moral imperative to take responsibility and help our children manage the many issues they are facing today, including encouraging positive social, emotional, and physical habits…” – Melania Trump
The mission of BE BEST is to focus on some of the major issues facing children today, with the goal of encouraging children to BE BEST in their individual paths, while also teaching them the importance of social, emotional, and physical health. BE BEST will concentrate on three main pillars: well-being, online safety, and opioid abuse.
BE BEST will champion the many successful well-being programs that provide children with the tools and skills required for emotional, social, and physical health. The campaign will also promote established organizations, programs, and people who are helping children overcome some of the issues they face growing up in the modern world.
THREE PILLARS OF BE BEST
By promoting values such as healthy living, encouragement, kindness, and respect, parents, teachers, and other adults can help prepare children for their futures. With those values as a solid foundation, children will be able to better deal with the evils of the opioid crisis and avoid negative social media interaction.
When children learn positive online behaviors early-on, social media can be used in productive ways and can effect positive change. Mrs. Trump believes that children should be both seen and heard, and it is our responsibility as adults to educate and reinforce to them that when they are using their voices—whether verbally or online—they must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion.
Opioid dependence, addiction, and abuse are an epidemic in this country. BE BEST will support the families and children affected by this crisis, bring attention to neonatal abstinence syndrome, and help educate parents on the importance of healthy pregnancies.
BE BEST INTERNATIONAL
First Lady Melania Trump joined President Trump on his trip to the United Kingdom in July of 2018. While in London, the First Lady visited the Royal Hospital Chelsea (RHC), which cares for over 300 Chelsea Pensioners (former soldiers of the British Army), along with local school children from St. George’s Church of England Primary School. At St. George’s, students are educated under the school’s motto “the best that we can be.” Mrs. Trump spent time learning more about what the motto means to each of the children, making poppies (a symbol of remembrance for fallen soldiers), and playing a lawn game known as bowls!
In October of 2018, First Lady Melania Trump embarked on her first major solo international trip! She began her trip to Africa in Ghana where she toured Ridge Hospital, paid respects at the Cape Coast Castle, and more. Continuing on to Lilongwe, Malawi—known as the “warm heart of Africa”—Mrs. Trump visited Chipala Primary School and spoke with First Lady Mutharika on empowering children through education.
In Nairobi, Kenya, the First Lady fed baby elephants at the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, toured Nairobi National Park, and visited with infants and children at Nest Children’s Home.
On Mrs. Trump’s last stop in Cairo, she visited a few of Egypt’s many cultural sites including the Sphinx, and the Great Pyramid – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. She also received a briefing about USAID’s Water Table Reduction Project at the base of the Sphinx.
Mrs. Trump’s second solo international tour is set for the fall of 2019 and will further her commitment to visiting schools, hospitals, organizations, and companies that support children around the globe.
Melania Trump Quick Facts
Melania Trump Personal:
- Birth date: April 26, 1970
- Birth place: Novo Mesto, Yugoslavia (now Slovenia)
- Birth name: Melanija Knavs
- Father: Viktor Knavs
- Mother: Amalija (Ulcnik) Knavs
- Marriage: Donald Trump (January 22, 2005-present)
- Children: Barron
- Education: University of Ljubljana, Yugoslavia (now Slovenia)
Other Facts About Melania Trump:
- Changed the spelling of her name from Melanija Knavs to Melania Knauss while modeling professionally.
- Speaks six languages: Slovenian, French, Serbian, German, Italian and English.
- She is the second foreign-born first lady in US history, after Louisa Adams, the English-born wife of sixth US president John Quincy Adams, who served from 1825 to 1829.
- Became a model in Yugoslavia at the age of 16.
- She has appeared in magazines such as GQ, Vanity Fair and Sports Illustrated.
Melania Trump Timeline:
- 1996 – Moves to the United States, heading to New York to work for ID Models.
- 1998 – Meets Donald Trump at a party at the Kit Kat Club in New York.
- 2000 – Appears in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.
- March 19, 2001 – Obtains her green card.
- July 2006 – Becomes a US citizen.
- 2010 – Launches her jewelry line, Melania Timepieces and Jewelry, on QVC.
- April 2013 – Launches a caviar-based skincare line, Melania Caviar Complexe C6.
- July 18, 2016 – Parts of her campaign speech during the 2016 Republican National Convention are alleged to have been plagiarized from a speech delivered by First Lady Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention in 2008. A speechwriter working for Donald Trump’s company later assumes responsibility for the similarities in the passages in the two speeches.
- September 1, 2016 – Files a defamation lawsuit against British newspaper The Daily Mail and the US-based blog Tarpley accusing them of publishing claims that she was an escort in the 1990s. The Daily Mail and Tarpley both issue retractions.
- November 3, 2016 – During a campaign speech in Philadelphia, Trump announces she intends to make ending social media bullying her focus as First Lady.
- November 20, 2016 – Donald Trump confirms he will live in the White House as president, but says Melania and their son, Barron, will remain in New York initially, so that Barron can finish out the year at the same school.
- January 20, 2017 – Becomes the First Lady of the United States.
- February 2, 2017 – A Maryland judge dismisses Trump’s defamation lawsuit against British newspaper The Daily Mail on jurisdictional grounds. Last week, it was ruled that Trump’s lawsuit against blogger Webster Griffin Tarpley will move forward.
- February 6, 2017 – Trump’s lawyers refile the defamation lawsuit against British newspaper The Daily Mail. This time it is filed in the Supreme Court of New York where its publisher, Mail Media Inc., has offices.
- February 7, 2017 – Trump’s defamation lawsuit against Tarpley is settled.
- April 12, 2017 – Trump’s defamation lawsuit against The Daily Mail and Mail Online is settled for $2.9 million.
- September 23, 2017 – Trump arrives in Canada for her first solo foreign trip as first lady, traveling to Toronto to lead the US delegation to the Invictus Games. She meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Great Britain’s Prince Harry, before attending the opening ceremony of the Paralympic-style games.
- March 20, 2018 – At a roundtable event with technology executives, Trump addresses those who have criticized her for taking on a platform that includes cyberbullying saying, “I have been criticized for my commitment to tackling this issue and I know that will continue. But it will not stop me from doing what I know is right.”
- May 7, 2018 – Trump announces her formal platform during a ceremony at the White House Rose Garden. The initiative, called “Be Best,” focuses on well-being, combating opioid abuse and positivity on social media. A CNN poll released the same day reveals that 57% of respondents have a favorable impression of the First Lady, up from 47% in January.
- May 14, 2018 – Undergoes a procedure to treat a benign kidney condition, according to a White House statement.
- June 6, 2018 – Makes her first public appearance after the kidney procedure, attending a hurricane season preparedness briefing.
- June 17, 2018 – Issues a statement, via her spokeswoman, expressing concern about family separation at the border: “Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform. She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.”
- June 21, 2018 – Visits facilities in Texas that are housing children separated from their parents at the border.
- August 9, 2018 – Trump’s parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, are granted US citizenship, according to their immigration attorney. They obtained their citizenship through the sponsorship of their adult daughter, one of the categories of family visas that the Trump administration has sought to end.
- October 2-6, 2018 – Makes her first solo trip abroad, visiting Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Egypt on a tour of Africa.
- November 13, 2018 – Issues a statement, via her spokeswoman, calling for the ouster of deputy national security adviser, Mira Ricardel. “It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that (Ricardel) no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House,” the statement reads.
- January 26, 2019 – British magazine, The Telegraph, issues an apology to Trump for the article titled “The Mystery of Melania,” that included several inaccuracies about her life and her family.
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