— -- A Syrian refugee, an ex-convict and a sitting governor are just three of the 23 guests picked as special guests for President Obama's final State of the Union Tuesday.
Presidents often use the first lady's guest box to host exemplary citizens, volunteers and participants in events that have shaped policy and news events in the country. They are regularly called out during the speech as anecdotes for the president's policy proposals.
This year, President Obama's guests go as far back as his 2008 campaign for the presidency. White House officials have promised his State of the Union address this year will be a "nontraditional" look back at how the past eight years have shaped the direction of the country.
Here are the guests appearing in the first lady's section Tuesday:
Refaai Hamo: In what was seen as a direct rebut to Donald Trump's fiery rhetoric against Muslim immigrants, President Obama first reached out to Hamo on a Humans of New York Facebook post that profiled the Syrian refugee. Hamo's story is one of repeated tragedy, with the 55-year-old yearning for an opportunity to bring his skills as a scientist to America. Obama wrote that Hamo was "part of what makes America great."
Staff Sgt. Spencer Stone: Stone and his two friends, Army Specialist Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler, were dubbed heroes in France after they thwarted a terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train. Stone, 23, recently received a Purple Heart and the Airman's medal after he was injured in the struggle to subdue the attacker.
Army Reserve Maj. Lisa Jaster: Jaster is the first female Army Reserve officer to graduate from the Army's grueling Ranger School. Ranger School was open only to males until last year, when the Obama administration called for the ban on women in combat to be lifted.
Jim Obergefell: Obergefell's name will go down in history as the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that legalized gay marriage nationwide.
Naveed Shah: Shah is an Army Veteran who is originally from Saudi Arabia. He enlisted in the Army after seeing that "the terrorist attack on Sep. 11, 2001 marked the ultimate distortion" of his faith.
Sue Ellen Allen: Allen, who was convicted of securities fraud, has focused her efforts since she was released from prison in 2009 on a nonprofit organization she established, Gina's Team, that is focused on helping inmates reenter society.
Edith Childs: "Fired up, ready to go!" This line from Childs turned into a rallying cry for Obama supporters during his 2008 campaign for president. The White House credits Childs with creating the "unofficial slogan" that exemplified his energetic supporters. Childs is currently a councilmember in Greenwood County, South Carolina.
Oscar Vasquez: Vasquez is a DREAMer who came to the U.S. when he was 12 years old. He served in the Army and is now a U.S. citizen who works as a business analyst for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railways.
Earl Smith: Smith gave then-Sen. Barack Obama a military patch he had earned serving in Vietnam that Obama kept with him as a personal treasure through his 2008 campaign for president.
Ryan Reyes: Reyes' partner Larry Kaufman was killed in the San Bernardino terrorist attack on Dec. 2. Kaufman is credited with saving the lives of several people before he was killed, and Reyes has called for the attack not to be an excuse to marginalize the Muslim community.