For many people, former US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle are couple to emulate.
According to a new biography of Barack Obama titled “Rising Star,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer David J. Garrow, the 44 president of the United States asked another woman to marry him before Michelle — not once, but twice.She is Sheila Miyoshi Jager.
In the 1980s, Jager lived with Barack Obama, then a community organizer in Chicago. In winter 1986, Obama asked her parents if he could marry her, but they objected.
Shortly after he entered the Harvard Law School, Obama proposed to Jager a second time, but she rejected him. Their relationship was only made public in May 2017, several months after the end of Obama’s two-term presidency.
After his first year at Harvard, Obama returned to Chicago as a summer associate at the law firm Sidley Austin. That’s where he met Michelle Robinson, who worked there, and they went on their first date.
The book noted that after Obama married Michelle in 1992, his only contact with Jager was the occasional letter (after the 9/11 attacks) and phone call (he reached out to ask if a biographer had contacted her). The author also noted that Obama’s romantic choice — marrying Michelle over Jager — was influenced by his political ambitions, the implication being that Michelle was a more suitable partner than Jager.
While Obama went on to pursue his political career, Jager continued in the academic world. Currently a professor of East Asian studies at Oberlin College, she received her bachelor of arts from Bennington College in 1984, her master of arts from Middlebury College in 1985, and her PhD from the University of Chicago in 1994.
Jager married Jiyul Kim, a U.S. Army veteran and history professor at Oberlin College. They have four children and reside in Ohio.
Although Jager and Obama’s relationship came during a formative time in the future president’s life, it’s his marriage with Michelle that saw him through his years in the biggest job on the planet.