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2000 State of the Union Address: Guests Seated in the First Lady's Gallery

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State of the Union Address 2000


January 27, 2000

First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton will be joined this evening, January 27, 2000, for President Clinton's State of the Union address by ten citizens who through their public activities are making an impact in their communities. The people chosen to sit with Mrs. Clinton represent the vast progress and promise of America at the beginning of a new millennium. They range from an activist parent to a student who participated in the AmeriCorps program to an Air Force captain decorated for his heroic service in Serbia. The following people make up the list of guests in the First Lady's Gallery:

Photo: First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and guests applaud Captain John Cherrey.
Photo by Ralph Alswang


Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health
Rockville, MD

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., is a physician-geneticist and the Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. In that role he oversees the government's fifteen-year project aimed at mapping and sequencing all of the human DNA by the year 2003. Many consider this the most important scientific undertaking of our time. The project is currently running ahead of schedule and under budget.
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Ruth Summerlin
Beaufort, South Carolina

Beaufort Elementary School serves a predominantly low-income population of 573 students in grades Pre-K through 5. Five years ago the school was classified as one of the worst 200 schools in South Carolina. After implementing a five-year school improvement plan Beaufort Elementary was named a 1999 Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. Last year, student performance at Beaufort Elementary exceeded district and state averages in both reading and math. Beaufort has after-school and summer school programs for remediation in reading and math. The school has also redesigned its daily calendar and lengthened its school year to 200 days. The school receives Title I funding, and their district received Goals 2000 funding. As part of a statewide effort, the school district is reducing class sizes in the early grades, and with state funding Beaufort Elementary has reduced class size in grades 1-3 from an average of 25 to 1 to an average of 18 to 1. Beaufort was previously a 100% free and reduced lunch school, but with the recent improvements it is now attracting students from private academies and other suburban schools. Ruth Summerlin has been the principal at Beaufort for seven years, and was instrumental in the school turn-around.
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Tom Mauser
Littleton, Colorado

Tom Mauser is the father of Columbine High School victim Daniel Mauser. Since the Columbine tragedy, Mauser has become an outspoken advocate for reasonable gun-control legislation. He made his first public appearance in support of stronger gun laws just 10 days after the Columbine incident, and also joined the First Lady at the White House on Mother's Day last year for an event on gun violence and young people. This month he announced that he was taking a one year leave of absence from his job at the Colorado Department of Transportation to work full-time for gun-control legislation as the Director of Political Affairs for SAFE Colorado (Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic).
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Robert (Bob) Knowling Jr.
Santa Clara, CA

Bob Knowling is the CEO of Covad Communications, the nation's leading provider of "DSL" - an advanced telecommunications service critical to providing high-speed Internet access to homes and businesses. He has seen firsthand both the problem of finding skilled Information Technology (IT) workers and the troubling scarcity of African-American and other minority men and women in the IT workforce. As chairman of the Information Technology Association of America's Industry Committee, Knowling has been spearheading an effort to diversify the IT workforce through comprehensive internship programs, a broad-based business commitment from the employer community, and targeted education and outreach.
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Lloyd Bentsen (Seated on House Floor)
Houston/Rio Grande Valley, TX

Lloyd Bentsen served as Secretary of the Treasury for the first two years of the Clinton Administration. In 1993, the President asked Sec. Bentsen to lead the effort to pass the deficit reduction plan that passed Congress by just one vote and paved the way for what is now the longest peacetime economic expansion in our history. This remarkable accomplishment builds upon a lifetime of achievement. A Texas farmhand by the age of six, a bomber pilot by 21, a Congressman by 27, an immensely successful businessman by 35, Lloyd Bentsen saw and did more in his youth than most see and do in an entire lifetime. He then served as a distinguished United States Senator from Texas. He rose to become Chairman of the Finance Committee, where he demonstrated his lifetime concern for the interest of business and labor and the poor, and his conviction that America should advance all these together.
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Captain John Cherrey
Englewood, NJ
(stationed at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany)

Captain John Cherrey has distinguished himself throughout his ten-year Air Force career. Most recently, Captain Cherrey was awarded the Silver Star (the highest Armed Forces medal awarded in Kosovo operations) for his courageous action in rescuing a fellow pilot shot down over hostile Serbian territory. As a part of Operation Allied Force in Kosovo, Captain Cherrey was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for leading a Forward Air Control mission that destroyed two VJ/MUP tank convoys.
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Christina Jones
Round Rock, AZ

Christina Jones, a Navajo of the Kin Yaa'aanii clan, joined AmeriCorps three years ago to serve her community of Round Rock, Arizona. Christina tutored fourth-graders and built and repaired homes in this community of 1,000, where half the homes have no indoor plumbing and unemployment is above 50%. Through AmeriCorps, she discovered a love for teaching and a passion to help her community. She enrolled in the Teacher Education Program at nearby Diné College, one of the nation's tribal colleges, and plans to teach on the reservation when she graduates next year. As a fluent Navajo speaker, Christina will not only help young Navajos succeed in school but maintain her native language and culture. While attending school full-time, Christina still tutors, leads a Girl Scout troop and visits elders living in isolation. Christina's older sister, Justina, also served in AmeriCorps and is in the same teacher preparation program at Diné College.
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Pat Brown
Johnson City, TN

Pat Brown, who suffers from five chronic illnesses, knows first-hand the hardship that results from the lack of Medicare prescription drug coverage. Pat used to have prescription drug coverage through Medigap, but the premiums kept increasing, and she had to buy a cheaper policy -- one which does not include prescription drug coverage. Her prescription drug costs are approximately $4,200 a year, and she is worried about spending her life's savings without being able to save for the rest of her retirement. Pat Brown retired five years ago after serving as the director of the Area Agency on Aging in northeastern Tennessee.
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Carlos Rosas
St. Paul, MN

Carlos Rosas is a 33 year old father from St. Paul, Minnesota, who enrolled in a fathers' employment and training program in October 1996 when he was not earning enough money to keep up with his child support obligation for his son, Ricardo, who is now 13 years old. At that time, Ricardo's mother was receiving welfare. During his time with the program operated by the Ramsey County Attorney's office, Carlos worked hard to upgrade his skills and increase his earning power so he could meet his child support responsibilities, save money to send Ricardo to college, and improve his own future. Last January when Carlos introduced the President at an event on responsible fatherhood and Welfare-to-Work, Carlos was balancing a full-time job as a head maintenance worker while finishing his degree at a two-year Electronics Technology/Computer Sciences program. In May 1999, Carlos graduated from St. Paul Technical College and started a full-time job as an In-Shop Technician at Stringer Business Systems.
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Julie Foudy
Laguna Niguel, CA

Co-Captain of the 1999 U.S. Women's World Cup soccer team. A four-time All-American at Stanford University, Julie has been a member of the team since 1987 and captain since 1991. She has been an active participant in the Department of Health and Human Services' "Smoke-Free Kids" campaign, and also a strong voice on the issue of child labor. In 1997 she traveled to Pakistan to ensure that the soccer balls she endorsed were produced without the use of child labor. For her efforts, she was awarded the 1997 FIFA Fair Play Award, the first American and the first woman to be so honored.
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