By Susan Milligan, Globe staff
WASHINGTON -- Last year, she was a high-school intern in the Domestic Policy Council at the White House. And on Wednesday night, Harvard University freshman Janell Holloway will be sitting in the First Lady's box as President Obama delivers the State of the Union address.
Holloway, 18, is one of two participants in the DC Scholars honored with a coveted seat in Michelle Obama's box in the House chamber.
``The President and First Lady have been opening up the White House in new ways and they've made a special effort to make this a place for young people to learn about the world around them -- whether it be through the mentoring program, music workshops, or the DC scholars program,'' White House spokesman Moira Mack said. ``Janell Holloway, a participant in the DC Scholars program in 2009, was invited to sit in the First Lady’s box for the State of the Union in recognition of her commitment to service and her conscientious work inside and outside the classroom.''
The White House also announced that Juan Carlos Yépez of Lawrence will also join Mrs. Obama in the First Lady's box. Yépez's company, Mainstream Global,a distributor of integrated circuits and computer products, suffered severe damage from Merrimack River flooding in 2006. Owners Juan and Luis Yépez kept their 12 employees on the payroll as recovery workers, got an SBA government loan, and now have put the company back on track.
Holloway, who's still mulling her major, said she was thrilled to be asked. ``It was like something out of a movie,'' Holloway said. The Washington, DC native said she had met Mrs. Obama once during her time at the White House. ``She's really cool in person, really down to earth. She's an amazing lady,'' Holloway said.
Holloway is a member of the Harvard College chapter of the American Red Cross, dances with the CityStep dance troupe that works in the Cambridge public schools to improve students' self-esteem, and holds leadership positions on the Black Student Association. Before attending Harvard, Holloway made award-winning documentaries about the Tuskegee Airmen and the role of Black Radio during the civil rights movement.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.