00:40 GMT23 October 2020
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    The US first lady has been distinguished by Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA), which introduced an award for women “who cherish community and family and want to preserve these ideals for others” years ago. However, many seemed to disagree that she deserves the honour.

    US First Lady Melania Trump, who, like her husband, picked Palm Beach as her primary residence last year, has accepted the “Woman of Distinction” award from Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA).

    Receiving the award at the annual Women of Distinction luncheon, she said that it is a great honour to serve the American people before discussing her Be Best initiative, designed to protect children from bullying and negativity.

    “When we teach our children to cherish our values and care for each other, they are better prepared to carry on Americans’ legacy of compassion, service, and patriotism”, she said.

    According to her, the initiative “has been shining a light of progress across the country and overseas” to children to “understand what it means to be best”.

    “Technology has become a daily part of our children’s lives in both positive and negative ways. We live in an age where too many people allow the number of retweets or likes to define their self-worth. I’m convinced, now more than ever, that teaching healthy online behaviour is crucial to securing a safer future for our children”, Trump said, as cited by The Hill.

    Since the award’s inception in 1991 it has never been given to a US first lady. This year’s choice has prompted criticism from some students and alumni, as the outlet reports, pointing out that previous honorees have usually been involved in the local community. Additionally, two women typically receive the award.

    "This award has historically gone to women whose character and impact in Palm Beach has shaped the culture of our home, and I have not been convinced that the first lady's character or impact here is worthy of that recognition”, senior Graysen Boehning told the outlet.

    He claimed several students and “some faculty and staff discussed their opinions openly in the days following the announcement, and those opinions seemed relatively split”, although he acknowledged that many were excited that the first lady will speak at the event, the proceeds from which are to fund scholarships for female students.

    Social media users did not appear very keen on the idea of Melania getting the award either. Many could not contain their disdain.

    At the same time, president of the university Bill Fleming has told The Palm Beach Post that he “enthusiastically” greeted the decision to recommend Mrs Trump for the award, calling it "the honorable thing to do" and refuting claims that it was “a political statement on the part of the university”. The list of honorees from previous years includes Housing Secretary Ben Carson’s wife Candy, golf ace Jack Nicklaus’ wife Barbara, fashion designer Lilly Pulitzer, and Amway co-founder Rich DeVos’ spouse Helen.

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    women's rights, women, Twitter, social media reactions, award, Melania Trump, US
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