Although she played only a nominal role in his campaign as her husband energized his base across the country, she’ll be directly in the spotlight as she prepares to occupy the East Wing of the White House.
The Slovenian-born Melania, 46, will make history as the first immigrant first lady since Louisa, wife to John Quincy Adams, in 1825. Melania moved to the U.S. in 1996, and became a citizen in 2006, one year after marrying Donald.
The former model will be a significant change from the outgoing first lady — the Princeton and Harvard-educated lawyer Michelle Obama. But the two share an important part of their life in common: motherhood.
As first lady, expect Melania’s commitment to their 10-year-old son, Barron, to be a top priority.
“My husband is traveling all the time. Barron needs somebody as a parent, so I am with him all the time,” she previously told PEOPLE, explaining that she doesn’t have a nanny.
Melania says that she helps Barron with his homework, takes him to after-school activities and encourages him to try out different interests.
“He wants to be a golfer, a businessman, a pilot. It’s that age when you introduce him to stuff, and I like to be very hands-on,” she said.
Motherhood aside, Melania is also known for her impeccable style — and famously wore a pussy-bow blouse to the presidential debate that followed the release of Donald’s leaked tape. Her outfits regularly sell out and she has jewelry and skincare lines bearing her name.
Since marrying her husband, Melania has also been active with charities, including the American Red Cross. In her only campaign speech other than the Republican National Convention, given one week before the election, Melania also offered a glimpse of an issue she would tackle in the White House when she announced her plan to curb cyberbullying.
“I want my little boy to know that he’s blessed to be born in a country that values individual freedom and constitutional democracy,” she said. “I want our children in this country and all around the world to live a beautiful life, to be safe and secure, to dream freely of love and a family of their own some day. We need to teach our youth American values: kindness, honesty, respect, compassion, charity, understanding, cooperation.”
“It is never okay when a 12-year-old girl is mocked, bullied or attacked,” she went on to say. “It is terrible when that happens on the playground. And it is absolutely unacceptable when it’s done with no name hiding on the Internet.”
Many labeled the speech as hollow, considering the number of people her husband has attacked on Twitter.
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In her spare time, Melania has told PEOPLE she enjoys, “tennis, Pilates; I read magazines and love fashion. You need to live your own life while also helping .”
And Donald said that he believes Melania would be an excellent face for women’s rights.
“ would be an amazing representative for our country … I could see her being very involved in women’s health issues,” he said.
During an interview with PEOPLE in October of last year, Melania hesitated to envision a life in the White House: “It’s a long road. I take it day by day. My husband has a lot of people cheering for him. We will see.”
As far as decorating the White House, Melania will likely want separate bathrooms, what she calls “the key” to a healthy marriage. Donald said that he’ll resist adding too much of his traditional gold.
“If I were elected, I would maybe touch it up a little bit,” he said, “but the White House is a special place.” Leaning forward, he adds, “You don’t want to do too much touching.”