102-year-old voter among first lady’s State of the Union guests

Rachel Rose Hartman
The Ticket

Desiline Victor, a 102-year-old Miami, Fla., voter who made an above-and-beyond effort to vote last fall, will be among those seated in first lady Michelle Obama's box Tuesday night to watch the president's State of the Union address.

Victor, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Haiti and a retired farmworker, arrived at her polling location at 10 a.m. on the first Sunday of early voting in Florida, and was told that wait times were estimated to be up to six hours. Victor stood in line until 1 p.m., and then returned later that evening to cast her ballot.

"Several voters remarked that the lines were long and they needed to get home, but because of Desiline they would continue to stand and wait," the White House said in the announcement of the first lady's guests.

Americans picked to sit in the House chamber with the first lady for the State of the Union have traditionally been individuals regarded as heroes or as representatives for proposals outlined in the speech.

The mother and father of Hadiya Pendleton, a Chicago high-school student who performed at the president's inauguration and was killed by gun violence just over one week later, and a teacher from Sandy Hook Elementary School will also be among those guests watching Tuesday night's State of the Union address with Michelle Obama.

Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton and Nathaniel A. Pendleton Sr.'s presence suggests their story will be part of Tuesday night's address. Michelle Obama attended Pendleton's memorial service Feb. 6 at a time when the administration has been advocating universal background checks, assault weapons bans and other gun reform measures to address gun violence in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Kaitlin Roig, a first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook who protected her students during the December shooting by locking them in a bathroom, will also be seated in the first lady's box Tuesday night.

The CEO of Apple, Tim Scott, wounded veteran Carlos Evans, Alan Aleman, an undocumented immigrant and student, Amanda E. McMillan, a victim of pay discrimination, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and NASA's "Mohawk Guy" Bobak Ferdowsi are among the first lady's additional guests.