Former First Lady Melania Trump surprised the first recipient of her Fostering the Future initiative, Michael Whitesman (pictured) on a video call during her first sit-down interview since her husband left office
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Former First Lady Melania Trump surprised the first recipient of her Fostering the Future initiative on a video call during her first sit-down interview since her husband left office.

Speaking to Fox Nation in the interview aired Sunday, Melania opened up about her college scholarship nonprofit, funded by the sales of her NFT collection of digital artworks.

‘It’s exciting working with the leaders of foster care communities and schools that are [choosing] the deserving students,’ Melania told host Pete Hegseth.

Hegseth surprised both Melania and Michael Whitesman, the first recipient of the scholarship fund when he made a video call and introduced the former First Lady to the soon-to-be college student.

‘Hey Melania, thank you so much for your generosity,’ Whitesman said.

The recipient, who entered the foster care system when he was just one year old after authorities removed him from his household following the death of his younger sibling, told Hegseth he had given up on his dream to go to college before being awarded the scholarship.

‘My whole life, the one thing I regretted was not having the chance to go to college … I am extremely grateful for the generosity and graciousness, so to me, it means a whole bunch,’ Whitesman said.

‘Makes your dreams come true. Study hard and send me your grades, okay?’ Melania said, adding she is looking forward to meeting Whitesman in person. 

Former First Lady Melania Trump surprised the first recipient of her Fostering the Future initiative, Michael Whitesman (pictured) on a video call during her first sit-down interview since her husband left office

Former First Lady Melania Trump surprised the first recipient of her Fostering the Future initiative, Michael Whitesman (pictured) on a video call during her first sit-down interview since her husband left office

Fox Nation's Pete Hegseth introduced the former First Lady to the soon-to-be college student

Fox Nation’s Pete Hegseth introduced the former First Lady to the soon-to-be college student

Whitesman said he was born to a single mother in Southern California and was removed from his household after he was found by police holding a knife in his hands at just one-year-old.

His baby sibling had died in his sleep and authorities put Whitesman in the system.

During the course of the following four years, he lived in eight different homes before being adopted at age five. But despite being provided for physically, Whitesman said his then-family lacked emotional connection.

He was returned to the system at age 15 and experienced yet again the all too familiar burden of being taken from one foster home to the next.

However, upon moving to Oklahoma when he turned 17, his life took a turn for good, Whitesman told Fox.

‘God has been gracious to me … there have been a plethora of people who have stepped in to mentor me and I am so grateful for the opportunities that have been given me,’ he said.

Whitesman said at first he had refused to go to college because he was scared it would cost money he simply did not have, but will now make his dream come true thanks to the Fostering the Future initiative.

He thanked the former First Lady for her generosity and assured her he would get nothing but straight As.

‘You’re very welcome. I just wish you a great success, and I know you are starting the classes in the fall,’ Melania told Whitesman.

Melania has spent her time promoting the sale of her NFT collection of digital artworks to fund scholarships for vulnerable youth.

In January, she denied a report in Bloomberg that she was behind the $180,000 purchase of the art after it was claimed no-one else had come forward.

‘They need our resources, support, empowerment, to achieve that American dream,’ Melania said about her initiative to Fox.

Fostering the Future is part of Melania's Be Best initiative. Above, Melania Trump speaks about her new Be Best program and initiatives during an event in the Rose Garden of the White House on Monday, May 7

Fostering the Future is part of Melania’s Be Best initiative. Above, Melania Trump speaks about her new Be Best program and initiatives during an event in the Rose Garden of the White House on Monday, May 7

The scholarships are funded by the sales of her NFT collection of digital artwork. In January, Melania denied a report in Bloomberg that she was behind the $180,000 purchase of the art after it was claimed no-one else had come forward

The scholarships are funded by the sales of her NFT collection of digital artwork. In January, Melania denied a report in Bloomberg that she was behind the $180,000 purchase of the art after it was claimed no-one else had come forward

Melania Trump has spent her time promoting the sale of her NFT collection of digital artworks to fund scholarships for vulnerable youth

Melania Trump has spent her time promoting the sale of her NFT collection of digital artworks to fund scholarships for vulnerable youth

In the sit-down interview with Fox, Melania Trump was also asked for her views on the baby formula crisis.

‘It’s heartbreaking to see that they are struggling and the food is not available for children in the 21st century in the United States of America,’ she said.

Questioned about what was causing the shortages, Melania took aim at Joe Biden’s administration and replied: ‘Leadership.’

When Hegseth asked if she meant a lack of leadership, she said: ‘Yeah.’

The 52-year-old has kept a low profile since leaving the White House in January 2021, with only rare sightings by members of Mar-a-Lago.

Melania told Hegseth she is used to criticism by now and has chosen to focus on her philanthropic work with foster care youth.

‘I’m here to help people and that is the mission. And those people who criticize me, I would encourage them to [help] their own community or maybe join my Foster the Future initiative,’ she said. 

During interview, Melania also lashed out at Vogue editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour for putting Jill Biden on the front cover of her magazine, yet failing to do the same for her while her husband was in office.

‘We did a little research. You were the only first lady to go to the border. You did it twice,’ Hegseth began telling Melania ‘How did you put up with the constant criticism?’

The former First Lady is seen walking out of the Oval Office with her husband, former President Donald Trump in 2019

The former First Lady is seen walking out of the Oval Office with her husband, former President Donald Trump in 2019

‘Take Vogue, for example — five months into Joe Biden’s presidency, Jill Biden’s on the cover. [Vice President] Kamala Harris is on the cover before she’s even sworn in. Hillary Clinton was on the cover when she was first lady. Michelle was on the cover three times. Yet with your business background and your fashion background and your beauty, never on the cover of Vogue. Why the double standard?’, Hegseth inquired.

‘They’re biased and they have likes and dislikes, and it’s so obvious. And I think American people and everyone sees it. It was their decision, and I have much more important things to do — and I did in the White House — than being on the cover of Vogue,’ Melania said in response. 

Melania did once make the cover of Vogue, back in February 2005, when the Conde Nast title scored exclusive shots of her in her wedding dress as she married Donald.   

She was also offered a Vogue shoot shortly after Trump came to power, but refused to accept after the magazine said it could not guarantee her the cover, her former fixer Stephanie Winston-Wolkoff has claimed. 

Other conservative first ladies – including both Laura and Barbara Bush – were also denied the chance at a Vogue cover, sparking accusations of liberal bias.  

Just months after becoming First Lady, Jill Biden landed her first Vogue cover - an honor that was never given to her predecessor Melania Trump. It saw her posing at the White House in a $2,690 Oscar de la Renta gown

Just months after becoming First Lady, Jill Biden landed her first Vogue cover – an honor that was never given to her predecessor Melania Trump. It saw her posing at the White House in a $2,690 Oscar de la Renta gown  

Melania covered the February 2017 issue of Vanity Fair Mexico, though the story and photos were recycled from a profile featured in GQ in April 2016

Melania covered the February 2017 issue of Vanity Fair Mexico, though the story and photos were recycled from a profile featured in GQ in April 2016

Before Melania became first lady, she donned a Christian Dior wedding dress on the February 2005 cover of Vogue following her wedding to Trump

Before Melania became first lady, she donned a Christian Dior wedding dress on the February 2005 cover of Vogue following her wedding to Trump

During the Obama administration, Melania starred in a nude cover shoot for British GQ – back when she was still known by her maiden name, Melania Knauss.

More recently, she covered the February 2017 issue of Vanity Fair Mexico, though the story and photos were recycled from a profile featured in GQ in April 2016. Both publications share the same parent company as Vogue, Condé Nast.  

Wintour never explicitly said she would not have Mrs. Trump on the cover again, but has suggested previously that she wasn’t interested in doing so.

Her predecessor Michelle Obama, however, graced the cover of the prestigious fashion magazine on three occasions: first in February 2009, less than a month after President Obama’s inauguration, then again in 2013, and finally in November 2016. 

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