State of the Union guests: More from Michelle Obama; Durbin invites Illinois soldier

SHARE State of the Union guests: More from Michelle Obama; Durbin invites Illinois soldier

WASHINGTON–State of the Union guests are often recruited to make a political point–symbolic or substance–or, in the case of Sen. Dick Durbin D-Ill., to pay tribute to a wounded soldier from Illinois.

I have the list of the rest of First Lady Michelle Obama’s guests, and I’ll get to that. On Monday, I posted a list of some of Mrs. Obama’s guests as well as guests of members of the Illinois delegation.

First, a note about Durbin’s tradition of sharing the SOTU with an Illinois soldier. It started when he brought two injured Illinois military to the State of the Union in 2005, one of them an Army Major by the name of Tammy Duckworth who was recovering from her injuries at Walter Reed Hospital, then in Washington.

That fateful day–when Durbin met Duckworth–launched her on the path that led to becoming a member of the House of Representatives, attending the State of the Union as a member–not a guest.

On Tuesday, Durbin hosts Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Joseph Marcinkowski.

Here is his story, from Durbin’s office. He joined the Navy October 2007 “following his graduation from Batavia High School. Upon graduation from the Naval Hospital Corps School at Naval Station Great Lakes, HM3 Marcinkowski was assigned to Naval Hospital Okinawa Japan for two years.

HM3 Marcinkowski has served with Marine Divisions around the world including the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit which allowed him to participate in disaster relief operations for mainland Japan following their massive earthquake and tsunami. He deployed to Helmand Province in Afghanistan in March 2012, where he conducted day to day combat operations and security patrols, as well as teaching essential skills to junior Corpsmen. In June 2012, HM3 Marcinkowski sustained a traumatic brain injury and minor shrapnel from an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), which took the life of one of the Marines serving alongside him. He was hospitalized in Afghanistan before insisting on returning to the field alongside the other men in the unit. He completed his tour, returning to the United States in October 2012. HM3 Marcinkowski is currently stationed at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He works for the Warrior Family Coordination Cell, where he receives and organizes donations from charitable organizations and individuals to benefit the wounded warriors at Walter Reed. His awards and commendations include: Purple Heart Medal; Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Award with Combat Valor Device; Combat Action Ribbon; Joint Meritorious Unit Award; Navy Unit Commendation; Navy Good Conduct Medal; and Humanitarian Service Medal.

Here are the rest of Mrs. Obama’s guests, per a release from the White House:

Aliana Arzola-Piñero (San Juan, Puerto Rico)

2013 Kids State Dinner Attendee

Aliana Arzola-Piñero, from San Juan, Puerto Rico, is in fourth grade at the Colegio Puertorriqueño de Niñas. Aliana is an avid reader and gymnast who loves to cook with her grandma, something she’s done since she was two-years-old. She participated in the 2012 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge sponsored by the First Lady. While she didn’t win, she worked hard, tried again, and her perseverance paid off as she proudly represented Puerto Rico at the 2013 Kid’s State Dinner hosted by the First Lady. Her winning recipe “Yummy Eggplant Lasagna Rolls,” incorporates the “My Plate” guidelines. Aliana has worked hard to translate her experience visiting the White House into concrete steps to benefit her community, championing healthy eating and an active lifestyle for kids.

Cristian Avila (Phoenix, AZ)

DREAMer, “Core Faster” and Voter Engagement Coordinator, Mi Familia Vota

Cristian Avila, 23, was brought to the United States with his younger brother and sister when he was nine-years-old. Though Cristian became an All-American scholar by 7th grade and received a full scholarship to a private Jesuit high school, he was limited by his undocumented status. Last year he received temporary relief from deportation through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The 23-year-old Arizona resident started volunteering with Mi Familia Vota, a non-profit Latino civic engagement program, at the age of 16, and he was one of the core fasters in the Fast for Families demonstration late last year at the foot of the Capitol, which the President, Vice President, First Lady and Cabinet and Administration officials visited. After 22 days, he passed on the fast to others but has continued to push Congress to take up comprehensive immigration reform. Cristian is fighting for commonsense immigration reform so he can one day join the US Marine Corps and serve our country in uniform.

Mary Barra (Detroit, MI)

Chief Executive Officer, General Motors Company

Mary Barra was named Chief Executive Officer of General Motors effective January 15, 2014. In this role, she leads the company’s overall efforts to strengthen GM globally as an industry leader in automotive design and technology, product quality, customer care and business results. She is also a member of the GM Board of Directors and the first female CEO in the company’s history.

Barra began her career with GM in 1980 as a General Motors Institute (Kettering University) co-op student at the Pontiac Motor Division. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering. In 1990, Barra graduated with a master of business administration degree from the Stanford Graduate School of Business after receiving a GM fellowship in 1988. Barra has held a number of positions with GM, most recently as executive Vice President, Global Product Development, Purchasing & Supply chain – in this role she was responsible for the design, engineering, program management, and quality of GM vehicles around the world.

In 2013, Fortune Magazine named Barra one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” and Forbes Magazine names her one of the “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.” Barra lives in the Detroit area with her husband, Tony, and their two children.

Governor Steve Beshear (D-KY)

After serving three terms in the Kentucky House of Representatives, and as Kentucky’s Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor, Steve Beshear was elected Governor in 2007. Governor Beshear has worked closely with the Obama Administration to provide affordable health care to the people of Kentucky. In his second term, the Governor extended access to affordable health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians by expanding Medicaid and setting up a new health insurance Marketplace, “Kynect.” If the remaining states that haven’t expanded Medicaid coverage did so like Kentucky, about 5.4 million uninsured Americans would gain access to health insurance coverage by 2016. Governor Beshear is a native of Dawson Springs in Hopkins County, in western Kentucky. He holds a bachelor’s degree and law degree from the University of Kentucky and served in the U.S. Army Reserve. He and his wife, Jane, have been married since 1969. They have two sons and three grandchildren.

Tyrone Davis (Winston-Salem, NC)

Fellow with the Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Corps

Tyrone Davis, from Winston-Salem, NC, has been legally blind since the age of nine. Despite his vision loss, he ran cross-country and track in high school, and received a political science degree and Masters of Public Administration from North Carolina State University. He developed an interest in environmental issues during his time as an undergraduate, which led to a fellowship with the Environmental Defense Fund in 2010, placing him at Elizabeth City State University, a historically black university. His recommendations showed the school how to achieve savings of more than $31,000 a year, resulting in nearly 200 million tons of carbon emissions reductions annually. Tyrone’s father owns and operates a small office cleaning service, while his mother is a cost clerk for the county’s school transportation department. He has one younger brother currently attending North Carolina A&T State University. Now in his third year at Elon University School of Law, Tyrone hopes to use his skills to benefit the environment and make communities safer.

Vice Admiral Michelle Howard (Washington, DC)

Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans & Strategy

This year, Vice Admiral Michelle Howard will become the first female four-star Admiral in the 238-year-history of the United States Navy, and the first African-American female to achieve four-star rank in the history of the military. She was nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate in December. Howard’s initial sea tours were aboard USS Hunley (AS 31) and USS Lexington (AVT 16). While serving on board Lexington, she received the secretary of the Navy/Navy League Captain Winifred Collins award in May 1987. This award is given to one woman officer a year for outstanding leadership. She took command of USS Rushmore (LSD 47) on March 12, 1999, becoming the first African American woman to command a ship in the U.S. Navy. In 2010, she was the Maritime Task Force commander for BALTOPS, under 6th Fleet. Her shore assignments include: J-3, Global Operations, Readiness and Executive Assistant to the Joint Staff director of Operations; Deputy Director N3 on the OPNAV staff; Deputy Director, Expeditionary Warfare Division, OPNAV staff; Senior Military Assistant to the secretary of the Navy; Chief of Staff to the director for Strategic Plans and Policy, J-5, Joint Staff, and Deputy Commander, US Fleet Forces Command. Vice Admiral Howard is a 1978 graduate of Gateway High School in Aurora, Colo. She graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1982 and from the Army’s Command and General Staff College in 1998, with a Masters in Military Arts and Sciences.

Sabrina Simone Jenkins (Charleston, SC)

Sabrina Simone Jenkins – through obstacle after obstacle – has persevered in getting herself educated, determined to make a better life for herself and her family. Sabrina is a single mother to her teenage daughter Kenya. After serving in the Air Force, Sabrina took classes at DeVry University while working full time, graduating with a 3.7 GPA at the age of 42 – all while caring for ailing family members and becoming seriously ill herself. Sabrina then earned her master’s degree in human resources in 2012. Sabrina is currently saddled with nearly $90,000 in student loan debt, something that will only worsen as she pays for Kenya to go to college. Sabrina’s remarkable resolve through incredibly difficult circumstances brought her to the attention of The Shriver Report, which seeks to highlight the 1 in 3 American women living on the brink of poverty. The President is determined to help people like Sabrina – Americans who are working hard and doing the right things – get ahead.

Mayor Ed Lee (San Francisco, CA)

Mayor Edwin M. Lee is the son of Chinese immigrants and the first Asian-American Mayor of San Francisco, a position he’s held for more than three years. He previously served as San Francisco’s City Administrator and Director of the Department of Public Works. In 2013, he hosted a series of town halls to mobilize the Silicon Valley business community in support of immigration reform. Mayor Lee is also working on a proposal to significantly increase San Francisco’s minimum wage. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Education awarded a five-year, up to $30 million Promise Neighborhoods implementation grant to support school improvement and revitalize the Mission neighborhood in San Francisco. Originally from Seattle, Washington, Mayor Lee graduated Summa Cum Laude from Bowdoin College in 1974 and Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley in 1978. He and his wife, Anita, have two daughters, Brianna and Tania.

Andra Rush (Detroit, MI)

Founder and Chairperson, The Rush Group, Detroit Manufacturing Systems

Andra Rush is a descendant of the Mohawk Tribe from the Six-Nation Reservation, and the founder and chairperson of the Rush Group family of companies, which include Rush Trucking, Dakkota Integrated Systems, and Detroit Manufacturing Systems. This consortium of manufacturing, trucking, assembly, and distribution is one of the largest Native American-owned businesses in the country. Rush started her first company, Rush Trucking, in 1984 with only three trucks and successfully grew the company to include 800 tractors and 1,350 trailers. In 2012, Ms. Rush launched Detroit Manufacturing Systems Ltd., LLC (DMS), a joint venture between Rush Group Ltd, LLC and Faurecia. DMS manufactures and assembles automotive interior components in the City of Detroit and grew to more than 600 employees in its first year of operations, the largest new manufacturing employer in the City of Detroit in decades. The company’s first customer was the Ford Motor Company, building interior components for the Mustang and F-150 pickup truck. In 2012, she was appointed to the U.S. Manufacturing Council, which is the principal private-sector advisory committee to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce on manufacturing matters. She was also appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to serve as a trustee for Michigan’s Children’s Trust Fund. Ms. Rush has a Bachelor of Arts in Nursing (1982) from the University of Michigan. She has three sons.

Amanda Shelley (Gilbert, AZ)

Physician Assistant

For years, Amanda Shelley, a 37-year-old physician assistant from Gilbert, Arizona, was unable to get insurance due to a pre-existing condition. That all changed on January 1, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Two days later, Amanda began having severe pain in her abdomen, which at first she ignored – something she was used to doing because she was previously uninsured. The next day, when the pain became too much to bear, she went to the emergency room and eventually had emergency abdominal surgery. Amanda is one of millions of Americans who now knows the security that comes with quality, affordable health insurance.

Antoinette Tuff (Atlanta, GA)

DeKalb County Bookkeeper

On August 20, 2013, the world learned of the compassion and heroism of Antoinette Tuff, the DeKalb County bookkeeper who prevented a shooting at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy, an elementary school in the suburbs of Atlanta. Tuff, a mother of one daughter and one son, talked the would-be shooter down, sharing her personal struggles, discussing love and doing her best to connect with him until he surrendered before harming anyone. Now, instead of being known for another tragic school shooting, August 20, 2013 is remembered for one woman’s grace under pressure. The President called Tuff after the ordeal and has said what she did was “remarkable.” Antoinette has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal for civilian heroism.

MORE: Jobless Oak Park woman a guest of the White House

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