Ahead of President Obama’s State of the Union address, pundits and politicians are guessing at which policies he will mention in his speech. But here’s a cheat sheet on another issue: the guest list for the first lady’s box.
The White House has invited 24 people who, along with Jill Biden and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, will sit in first lady Michelle Obama's box at Tuesday night’s speech. From innovators and war heroes to small-business owners and Americans who have faced adversity in the last year, the men and women who were selected represent the wide spectrum of the president’s legislative priorities.
Below is a list of the guests:
Women in the Military: Marine Sgt. Sheena Adams, who served in Afghanistan and won several awards in combat, will sit in the first lady’s box, putting a spotlight on Pentagon’s new policy to allow women in combat.
Immigration Reform: The White House invited Alan Aleman, a Mexican-born college student hoping to become a doctor and join the Air Force. Avondale, Ariz. Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers and 102-year-old Haitian-born naturalized citizen Desiline Victor will also highlight the president’s new push for immigration.
Science Innovation: Mars Curiosity Rover flight director Bobak Ferdowski (above) and his famed Mohawk haircut will sit with the first lady. So will 16-year-old Jack Andraka, who won first-place honors at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in 2012 for developing a new method to detect pancreatic cancer, and Bradley Henning, a burgeoning professional in the machining profession.
Education Reform: Early-childhood educator Susan Bumgarner's presence will symbolize the Head Start program and a possible push for further education reform. Twelve-year-old Haile Thomas, who participated in the first lady’s "Let’s Move" campaign, was also invited.
Small Businesses: Lauded as one of the best beers in the Midwest, New Glarus Brewing Company produces the famed Spotted Cow ale. The company's owner, Deb Carey, will be seated with the first lady. The president has sought to cast himself as a champion of small businesses, but Republicans contend that his tax policies would harm owners of small firms.
American Businesses: Apple CEO Tim Cook (above) will sit with the first lady as an example of successful and influential American businesses.
Veterans’ Issues: Sgt. Carlos Evans lost both his legs and left hand fighting for the U.S. in Afghanistan. Also seated in the first lady’s box will be Tracey Hepner, who cofounded Military Partners and Families Coalition.
Superstorm Sandy: Menchu de Luna Sanchez is a registered nurse who helped save 20 infants when the power went off at her flooded hospital during the storm that swept across the East Coast.
Health Care: Peter Hudson, cofounder and CEO of iTriage, Democratic Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (above), and Abby Schanfield, who was unable to receive health care because of a preexisting condition, will represent the president’s health care law.
Women’s Issues: Amanda McMillan of Mississippi worked for several years for less pay than males at her skill level. She sued her company with the help of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The president often mentions the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was the first bill he signed into law as president.
Clean Energy: The president has made a push for further green energy and technology. The White House invited Lee Maxwell, a graduate of Kirkwood Community College’s wind technology program in Iowa.
Gun Violence: Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old honor student from the South Side of Chicago, was shot and killed in January. Her parents (above) will sit with the first lady, who along with Jarrett and Education Secretary Arne Duncan attended Pendleton's funeral just days ago. The White House also invited Oak Creek Police Lt. Brian Murphy, the first officer to arrive at the Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin, and Kaitlin Roig, a first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary, the site of a mass shooting that killed 20 children.
Middle-Class Tax Breaks: Single mother Lisa Richards participated in the president’s #My2K Twitter drive, where she said how a tax increase would affect her life.
Not attending will be Clint Romesha, a staff sergeant who was awarded the Medal of Honor by the president on Monday. He has turned down an invitation to be the first lady’s guest, The Hill reports. Romesha told CNN that after some "soul searching," he decided to watch the speech with friends from his former unit and his wife.
All photos taken by the AP