Meet the Special Guests for President Obama's Final State of the Union Address

See who made the list of special guests for Obama's final State of the Union.

January 10, 2016, 2:25 PM

— -- 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.

Mayor Mark Luttrell: Luttrell is the Republican Mayor of Shelby County in Tennessee. The White House hailed Luttrell as a model and partner in its bipartisan efforts for criminal justice reform.

Gov. Dannel Malloy: Democratic Gov. Malloy of Connecticut is hailed by the White House for his efforts to implement criminal justice reform, but more notably for his implementation of "common-sense gun safety laws" in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Gloria Balenski: Balenski lost her job following the 2008 recession and suffered financial strains from crushing medical bills. According to her bio from the White House, Balenski wrote the president about how her family rebounded and are a success story as a result of the Affordable Care Act and the actions he took as the economy was in peril in 2008.

Cynthia K. Dias: Dias is a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War and now volunteers with Veterans Village, which in November 2015 helped house every homeless veteran in Las Vegas as a part of the Administration's Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.

Jennifer Bragdon: Bragdon is a 42-year-old community college student who met Dr. Jill Biden in March. The White House said her story "showcases how community colleges can adapt to the needs of students."

Mark Davis: Mark is the owner of a small business in Washington, D.C., that trains low-income individuals to install solar panels.

Cary Dixon: Dixon met Obama in Charleston, West Virginia where he called for reforms to combat the nation's heroin and opioid epidemic. Dixon is the mother of a child with a substance abuse disorder.

Lydia Doza: Doza is a college student and a beneficiary of a White House initiative supporting Native American youth.

Braeden Mannering: Mannering, 12, started a nonprofit to provide healthy food to homeless and low-income families in his community.

Satya Nadella: Nadella is the CEO of Microsoft. The White House hailed her as a leader in expanding access to computers in classrooms, as well as her company's policy on paid leave for new mothers.

Chief Kathleen O'Toole Chief O'Toole of the Seattle Police Department is praised by the White House for her efforts in reforming community policing.

Ronna Rice: Rice is a small business owner of Rice's Lucky Clover Honey, which has expanded its operations substantially in recent years.

Cedric Rowland: Rowland is the lead Affordable Care Act navigator for the Near North Health Service Corporation in Chicago.

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