The White House Blog: The First Lady

  • An Everyday Hero: Menchu de Luna Sanchez’s View from the First Lady’s Box

    First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden, and Guests

    First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden, and guests in the First Lady's box in the House Chamber, stand and applaud as President Barack Obama is introduced at the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Feb. 12, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    For nearly three decades, extraordinary Americans who exemplify the themes and ideals laid out in the President’s State of the Union Address have been invited to join the First Lady in her viewing box.  Guests have included students, teachers and innovators, entrepreneurs and those serving in our armed forces.

    On Tuesday, February 12, 2013, one guest in the First Lady’s box was Menchu de Luna Sanchez, a Registered Nurse at New York University Langone Medical Center.  When Hurricane Sandy cut the power at NYU Langone Medical Center, Sanchez devised a plan to transport twenty at-risk infants to intensive care units around the city.  She organized the nurses and doctors to carefully carry the babies down eight flights of stairs with only cell phones to light the way.  Even as her own home was flooding, she thought only of protecting the babies in her care. 

    Sanchez was born, raised, and educated in the Philippines and she immigrated to the United States in the 1980s.  She has worked as a nurse in New York for more than 25 years, and has been at NYU since 2010.  She currently lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children, both of whom are in college.

    “This is like a lifetime achievement, lifetime honor, and lifetime privilege,” Sanchez told me when asked how it felt to be mentioned in the President’s State of the Union Address.  “It was like floating in air,” she added, in reference to her experience sitting between First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden in the First Lady’s box.

    Sanchez was lauded by President Obama during his speech: 

     “We were sent here to look out for our fellow Americans the same way they look out for one another, every single day, usually without fanfare, all across this country. We should follow their example.

    We should follow the example of a New York City nurse named Menchu Sanchez. When Hurricane Sandy plunged her hospital into darkness, her thoughts were not with how her own home was faring – they were with the twenty precious newborns in her care and the rescue plan she devised that kept them all safe.”

    “The experience that night is unimaginable to think about now, but saving lives comes very naturally when situations like these arise,” she said.

    When asked how she felt about the President’s speech, Sanchez thanked the President for addressing hardships faced by Americans throughout the country.  She recognized how her own family has benefitted from the policies the President laid out in his speech, including around housing, education, and immigration

    Finally, when I asked her if this experience has changed her life, she humbly brushed it off and said that she’ll be the same as she was before: still the mom of her children, and still the wife of her husband.  The only thing that will change, she noted, is that she hopes to set a good example for others and inspire them to do good things within their communities.

    Like the other guests of honor in the First Lady’s box, Sanchez embodies everyday Americans doing extraordinary deeds to better our nation.  We look forward to highlighting the stories of other inspiring Americans in the years to come.


    Jason Tengco is the Advisor on Public Engagement for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

  • First Lady Michelle Obama hosts a “Beasts of the Southern Wild” Movie Workshop for Students

    First Lady Michelle Obama hosts a “Beasts of the Southern Wild” movie workshop at the White House, Feb. 13, 2013

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks during a “Beasts of the Southern Wild” movie workshop in the State Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 13, 2013. Participating, from left, are: movie director Benh Zeitlin; actor Dwight Henry; actress Quvenzhané Wallis; and moderator Rachel Goslins, a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. (Official White House Photo by ) (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    First Lady Michelle Obama today welcomed 80 middle and high school students to an interactive workshop with the cast and crew of the film Beasts of the Southern Wild, in the State Dining Room. The students, who were from Washington, DC and New Orleans, LA, got to talk with director Benh Zeitlin, actor Dwight Henry and the movie's 9-year-old star, Oscar-nominated actress Quvenzhané Wallis,  who stars as Hushpuppy. 

    Mrs. Obama described the film as "beautiful, joyful and devastatingly honest," and praised its underlying message of strength and resilience:

     It's a movie that makes us all think deeply about the people we love in our lives who make us who we are. It shows us the strength of our communities, no matter what they look like.  It shows us that those communities can give us the power to overcome any kind of obstacles. And it also tells a compelling story of poverty and devastation, but also of hope and love in the midst of some great challenges.

    So there are so many important lessons to learn in that little 93 minutes. That’s the other cool thing -- that a director and a set of writers and producers can say so much in just 93 minutes.  And it doesn’t always happen in a movie, quite frankly, but this one did it, and that’s why I love this movie so much and why our team wanted to bring it here to the White House and share it with all of you.

  • The First Lady's Box at the 2013 State of the Union

    For nearly three decades, extraordinary Americans who exemplify the themes and ideals laid out in the State of the Union Address have been invited to join the First Lady in her viewing box. From students to teachers and innovators, to entrepreneurs and those serving in our armed forces – use the interactive feature below to learn more about the remarkable individuals who will join First Lady Michelle Obama for the 2013 State of the Union Address.

    The First Lady's Box at the 2013 State of the Union

    Check out for an enhanced viewing experience of President Obama's State of the Union address and check out opportunities to engage online with White House officials and even President Obama himself.

    Learn more about the State of the Union:

  • Let's Move! Three Years of Working Towards a Healthier Generation of Children

    Ed note: this post was originally published on Let's Move's official blog. You can read it here

    First Lady Michelle Obama launched Let’s Move! on February 9, 2010 to unite the country around our kids’ health and create real support for families to live healthier lives. Since then we’ve seen substantial commitments from parents, business leaders, educators, elected officials, military leaders, chefs, physicians, athletes, childcare providers, community and faith leaders, and kids themselves to improve the health of our nation’s children. Thanks to these efforts, families now have access to more of the information they need to make healthier decisions for their children. Young people now have more opportunities for physical activity in their communities. Food in schools has been dramatically improved. And more Americans now have access to healthy, affordable food right in their communities. 

    Mrs. Obama Participates In A Tug Of War

    First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a tug of war competition at an activity station during a “Let’s Move! London” event at Winfield House in London, England, July 27, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

    Later this month we’ll be celebrating Let’s Move!’s third anniversary by showcasing progress and announcing new ways the country is coming together around the health of our children. Until then, here’s a look back on what the nation has accomplished over the past 3 years.

  • West Wing Week: 02/08/13 or “What’s Up, Camera Man?”

    This week, the President honored our nation's top scientists and innovators, nominated a new Secretary of the Interior, and worked toward reducing gun violence, enacting immigration reform, and reducing our deficit in a balanced way.


  • White House Fellows Participate in Winterhaven Homeless Stand Down

    The White House Fellows recently had the great pleasure and honor of participating in the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) Winterhaven Homeless Stand Down in Washington, DC. The Stand Down is an annual event in which over 60 federal, state, and community agencies provide a range of services to needy and homeless veterans. These include cholesterol checks, eye exams, employment counseling, clothing distribution, benefits claims assistance, PTSD and trauma screening, personal care items and meals. The Stand Down is part of the VA's goal to end veteran homelessness by 2015.

    White House Fellows served in the kitchen and dining area, which for most veterans was the last stop of the day. Some Fellows greeted veterans upon their entry into the dining area and reviewed with each veteran his or her schedule, to ensure that each veteran had the opportunity to access all of the available resources. We served meals, including salads, vegetables, barbecue, desserts and beverages. Fellows also helped disabled veterans to their seats and carried veterans' meals and bags of supplies and clothing. Finally, we helped clean tables, so that no veteran would have to wait to be seated. With the other volunteers, we served over 500 veterans during the day.

  • West Wing Week 01/25/13 or: “Behind the Scenes: Inauguration 2013”

    This week, Washington D.C. was transformed into an historic stage, with an estimated one million people on hand to witness the President and Vice President take the Oath of Office at the United States Capitol. Through it all, West Wing Week was there, from the terrace of the Capitol to backstage at the balls. America, take a moment to look back at where we've been this week for this special edition of West Wing Week, January 18th to the 24th, or "Behind the Scenes: Inauguration 2013."

  • Behind the Scenes: What It's Like to be Surprised by the President at the White House

    It's not unusual for guests on the White House tour to harbor a secret hope that they just might bump into the President, Mrs. Obama or even Bo as they make their way through the historic rooms that serve double duty as home to our First Family. In reality, it almost never happens, which is why these visitors found themselves nearly speechless on Tuesday, when three of the Obamas surprised them with an impromptu welcome in the Blue Room. Check out their reactions, below: 

  • Surprise! President and Mrs. Obama Greet White House Tour (Bo Was There, Too)

    President and Mrs Obama Surprise Guests on a White House Tour, Jan. 22, 2013

    President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet visitors during an inaugural open house in the Blue Room of the White House, Jan. 22, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the second term with a tradition that began in the first: A special surprise greeting for guests on a White House tour on Tuesday. Followers of the First Lady's new Twitter account were given a heads up that something special was about to happen in the Blue Room when Mrs. Obama sent a tweet teasing:

    The President and First Lady welcomed the guests with handshakes, hugs and even fistbumps, and Bo was treated to a near-constant stream of affectionate pats and petting. The entire event was livestreamed, and you can watch a replay below: 


  • First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden Celebrate the Inauguration with Military Families

    The First and Second Ladies of the United States got an early start on the 2013 Inauguration celebrations at a concert honoring our military families.

    The Kids Inaugural: Our Children, Our Future was hosted by Nick Cannon and featured artists including Katy Perry, Usher, the cast of "Glee," Far East Movement and Mindless Behavior. JR Martinez, the Army hero who won "Dancing with the Stars," also joined Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden for the event, which was held at the Washington Convention Center. 

    Dr. Biden said the concert was a chance to show military kids how much the country appreciates the sacrifices they make while their parents are serving.

    The First Lady told the crowd that while she loves "every single minute" of the inaugural celebrations, the Kids Concert was the true highlight:

     I have to tell you that my very favorite part of this entire weekend is being right here with all of you. Absolutely. Because for me, this is what inauguration is all about. It’s about celebrating who we are as Americans and all the things that make this country so great. And when I think about who we are, when I think about what makes America great, I think about all of you --our men and women in uniform, our military spouses, and our amazing military kids.