A North Texas man will witness history when he watches President Obama deliver his last State of the Union Address from the First Lady’s viewing box.
Oscar Vazquez received an invitation from the White House last week. He is one of more than 20 inspiring people invited to sit with First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden and Valerie Jarrett.
“For the President’s final State of the Union address, the individuals who will be seated in the guest box tell the story of the progress we have made since the President delivered his first address seven years ago – from terrible economic recession and two costly wars, to a revitalized and thriving economy and renewed American leadership abroad,” said a post to the White House Blog Sunday.
Vazquez, who lives outside of Fort Worth, currently works for BNSF Railroad as a business analyst.
He came to the United States from Mexico when he was 12 years old, living in Phoenix, Arizona.
“I went to Carl Hayden High School there,” Vazquez said, “I was a member of a robotics club they had there at that school and that’s where it all got started.”
He has a passion for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education and careers, also referred to as STEM.
“I stuck with STEM, I eventually ended up competing against a bunch of universities in an underwater robotics competition and winning the competition opening up all those doors for me,” Vazquez said.
He later went on to study at Arizona State University and graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2009.
“Then after that I had to go back to Mexico to apply for a Green Card to get a visa,” Vazquez said, “It took 11 months or so of me being separated from the family. Eventually, I got my Green Card, came back to the states and then I decided that I wanted to do what I always wanted to do and I joined the military.”
Vazquez served in the military from Feb. 1, 2001 until Aug. 6, 2014. He saw combat in Afghanistan where a member of his platoon was killed.
Vazquez, now a U.S. citizen, eventually left the service and continued with a career in STEM.
“I do show that hard work and dedication, staying with STEM I knew that once I graduated college I wasn’t going to be able to get a job, but that didn’t stop me from continuing that education because I knew that eventually would pay off no matter what,” Vazquez said.
Vazquez now encourages other to follow their dreams, specifically encouraging students to seek an education in STEM.
“It’s hard to describe what it means to have the ability to influence people to better their lives, but if I can just convince another kid to pursue education, to stay in school and stay out of trouble, what more can I ask for, right?,” Vazquez said.