The White House has released Michelle Obama's State of the Union guest list, and it has some pretty unusual invitees: an astronaut, an undocumented college student, and a LAPD captain, to name a few. In all, 22 Americans were invited to sit with the first lady during President Obama's speech on Jan. 20. According to a news release from the White House, the guests were chosen because they "exemplify the themes and ideals" that the president plans to discuss in his yearly address.
Among Michelle Obama's 22 guests for the State of the Union are: Astronaut Scott Kelly, who's about to embark on a yearlong mission at the International Space Station; LAPD Captain Phillip C. Tingirides, who works in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts and has reduced the crime rate there by 50 percent; Maryland Senate Majority Leader Catherine Pugh; and Ana Zamora, an undocumented college student who advocates for rights for other "dreamers" like her.
Also on the first lady's guest list are Malik Bryant, a 13-year-old from the Chicago South Side who wrote a letter to Santa Claus last year asking for safety from gun and gang violence in his neighborhood; LeDaya Epps, a construction worker from Compton, California; climate change researcher and Latina activist Nicole Hernandez Hammer; and U.S. contractor Alan Gross, who was wrongfully imprisoned by the Cuban government for five years and just released in December.
Other distinguished guests include CVS Health President and CEO Larry Merlo, Ebola health care worker Dr. Pranav Shetty and small-business owner Carolyn Reed, who advocates for living wages for all hourly workers.