Responders, Heroes Among Guests at State of Union

WASHINGTON (AP) — The CEO of General Motors and an immigrant brought to the U.S. illegally as a child will join first lady Michelle Obama to watch President Barack Obama deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday.

The White House frequently invites guests to sit with the first lady during the address to emphasize a policy or issue associated with the guest that the president wants to highlight. The White House has announced 17 guests, including two survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing and an openly gay former NBA player.

The guests announced so far include:

— Cristian Avila, Phoenix. Avila and two younger siblings were brought to the U.S. illegally when Avila was 9 years old. Now 23, Avila is one of the so-called Dreamers who have benefited from an Obama policy allowing young people who immigrated illegally with their parents to avoid deportation. Avila volunteers for a nonprofit civic engagement program for Latinos, and as a teenager fasted for 22 days to call for an immigration overhaul. The White House said Avila wants to be eligible to serve in the Marine Corps.

— Mary Barra, Detroit. The CEO of General Motors Co., Barra is the company's first female CEO. She took over the company this month. She joined GM in 1980, and in 2013 Fortune Magazine named her one of the "50 Most Powerful Women in Business." GM is also one of the companies that benefited from a bailout of the auto industry under the Obama administration.

— Gov. Steve Beshear, D-Ky. Elected in 2007, Beshear has been a proponent of Obama's health care law. He embraced an expansion of Medicaid enabled by the health care law, and under his watch Kentucky established a state-based insurance marketplace that the Obama administration has frequently touted.

— Mayor Ed Lee, San Francisco. The first Asian-American to run San Francisco, Lee is the son of Chinese immigrants and has helped to mobilize support in Silicon Valley for an immigration overhaul. The White House said Lee is also working to raise San Francisco's minimum wage.

— Antoinette Tuff, Atlanta. A bookkeeper and mother, Tuff is credited with preventing a shooting at an elementary school in the Atlanta suburbs in August. The White House said Tuff talked the suspect down by sharing personal struggles and connecting with him until he surrendered.

— Tyrone Davis, Winston-Salem, N.C. Blind since the age of 9, Davis is in his third year of law school and is a fellow with the Environmental Defense Fund's Climate Corps. The White House said that as a Defense Fund fellow he developed recommendations that showed Elizabeth City State University how it could save $31,000 a year and reduce carbon emissions by nearly 200 million tons per year.

— Vice Adm. Michelle Howard, Washington. Howard is set to become the Navy's first female four-star admiral this year. The White House said she will also become the first African-American female to achieve four stars in the military's history. In 1999, she became the first African-American woman to command a Navy ship when she took command of the USS Rushmore.

— Sabrina Simone Jenkins, Charleston, S.C. A single mother, Jenkins served in the Air Force and then studied at DeVry University while working full time, caring for ill family members and dealing with her own serious medical issues. The White House said Jenkins graduated at age 42 with a 3.7 GPA and then earned a master's degree, but now has nearly $90,000 in student debt.

— Andra Rush, Detroit. A descendant of the Mohawk tribe from the Six-Nation Reservation, Rush is the founder and chair of the Rush Group. The family of companies includes Detroit Manufacturing Systems and is one of the biggest Native American-owned businesses in the U.S., the White House said. Rush's first business was a trucking company she started in 1984.

— Amanda Shelley, Gilbert, Ariz. A 37-year-old physician's assistant, Shelley was uninsured and couldn't get coverage because of a pre-existing condition until Obama's health care legislation became law, the White House said. Two days after receiving coverage under the law, she encountered abdominal pain that eventually required emergency surgery.

— Aliana Arzola-Pinero, San Juan, Puerto Rico. A fourth-grader, Arzola-Pinero took part in 2012 in the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge that Mrs. Obama sponsored. She didn't win, but she later represented Puerto Rico at a Kid's State Dinner the first lady hosted in 2013. Arzola-Pinero's recipe for "Yummy Eggplant Lasagna Rolls" incorporates the USDA's "My Plate" nutritional guidelines.

— Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman, Boston: A photograph of Arredondo, 53, and Bauman, 27, has become one of the iconic images from the April 2013 bombing. The photo captured Arredondo rushing a badly injured Bauman away from the scene of the attack. Bauman, who lost both legs in the attack, played a crucial role in identifying the bombers while he was in the hospital recovering. The two men have become close friends, the White House said.

— Gary Bird, Moore, Okla.: Bird is the fire chief in Moore, Okla., which was hit by a massive tornado in May 2013. The tornado killed 25 people and destroyed more than 1,000 homes and businesses. The White House said Bird and his team worked through the path of the storm to rescue survivors.

— Jason Collins, Los Angeles: In April, 35-year-old Collins became the first active male athlete on a major American sports team to come out as openly gay. Collins played 12 years in the NBA, going to the playoffs nine times and making the league finals twice. The president has said Collins' announcement marked a point of progress for the gay community.

— Joey Hudy, Anthem, Ariz.: Hudy participated in a 2012 science fair at the White House, where he helped the president use his invention, the "extreme marshmallow cannon." Now 16, Hudy is interning at Intel and is a proponent of science, technology, engineering and math education.

— Kathy Hollowell-Makle, Washington: Hollowell-Makle was the 2013 teacher of the year in the District of Columbia public school system. A former Teach for America corps member, Hollowell-Makle teaches at Abram Simon Elementary, where 90 percent of her students demonstrated early literacy at proficient or advanced levels

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Loading