Chicago-area student will be among Jill Biden’s special guests for State of the Union address

RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, the mother and stepfather of Tyre Nichols, who died after a police beating in Memphis, Tennessee, will also be guests of the first lady.

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President Biden Delivers His First State Of The Union Address To Joint Session Of Congress

At the 2022 State of the Union, first lady Jill Biden applauds her guest, Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova. Markarova will be Biden’s guest again at this year’s State of the Union, along with a suburban Chicago high school student and others.

Photo by Evelyn Hockstein-Pool/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Kate Foley, a sophomore at Rolling Meadows High School, will be among first lady Jill Biden’s guests Tuesday night when President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.

Jill Biden phoned Kate last week to personally invite her in a call with the student and her mother, Dana, an eighth-grade English teacher at Carl Sandburg Junior High in Rolling Meadows. They told the first lady they had never been to Washington before.

Jill Biden met Kate, 15, from Arlington Heights, when she visited the school in the northwest suburbs on Nov. 14, coming to the Chicago area with Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona for events to kick off National Apprenticeship Week and to highlight Biden White House career programs.

For years, and spanning various administrations, State of the Union guests in the first lady’s box in the House of Representatives have often been used to represent policies or causes. Kate highlights the Biden administration’s programs providing high school students with training for careers through partnerships with employers and community colleges. Jill Biden was a longtime community college English teacher.

Kate, who takes engineering classes at Rolling Meadows, wants to be a biomedical engineer. She was part of a roundtable with Jill Biden and others in November discussing the Career Pathways program at the school.

“Not everyone needs a four-year degree. It’s about jobs,” Kate said then.

During the Rolling Meadows visit, Cardona announced the launch of a new Biden administration initiative, Raise the Bar: Unlocking Career Success, bankrolled with $120 billion from the American Rescue Plan and intended to give students training for careers in high demand.

The Education Department said “the initiative blurs the lines between high school, college and the world of work, providing students with accelerated and innovative opportunities to earn college credits and gain real-world career exposure and experiences.”

The White House will pay for the travel expenses for the guests in the first lady’s box.

Other guests of the first lady include:

  • The ambassador of Ukraine, Oksana Markarova, who was also Biden’s guest last year in the wake of the Russian invasion.
  • Bono, the lead singer of U2, an activist in the fight against HIV/AIDS and co-founder of the nonpartisan ONE Campaign.
  • Paul Pelosi, who was attacked at his San Francisco home by an intruder last year looking for his wife, then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The White House said, “according to court filings, the intruder confronted Mr. Pelosi, asking ‘Where’s Nancy? a similar chant of those responsible for the January 6th Capitol insurrection.”
  • Brandon Tsay, who disarmed the gunman responsible for the mass shooting in Monterey Park, California, and preventing another attack in nearby Alhambra.
  • RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, the mother and stepfather of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old unarmed Black man who died after beatings at the hands of multiple police officers in Memphis, Tennessee.

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