- Associated Press - Sunday, January 10, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) - An advocate for young Native Americans plans to attend President Barack Obama’s last State of the Union address.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports (https://bit.ly/1OIFONo) 24-year-old Alaskan Lydia Doza was invited to sit with first lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday as a guest of the White House.

“It’s like a dream come true,” she said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and I’m really glad to get the opportunity to do that.”

Doza became involved with the Obama administration’s Generation Indigenous initiative through her work with the Center of Native American Youth. She reaches out to the community’s students to promote getting into the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

“I try to be a presence to them to let them know that someone like them is getting a higher education,” Doza said.

The Oregon Institute of Technology software engineering student says she works with kids using activities that make science and technology more approachable rather than overwhelming. One exercise called squishy circuits involves a product similar to Play-Doh.

“It’s completely nontoxic, and it’s cool because we can have kids as young as … 3 years old playing with electricity, and it’s completely safe,” Doza said.

The invite comes after a year in which the president visited Alaska, the state that provided the Capitol Christmas tree. Doza says she’s excited to even get to attend, let alone as a special guest.

“Someone just called me from the White House. I was in class, and then they sent me a text message,” Doza said. “And I couldn’t believe it - I was like, ‘Nobody just gets text messages from the White House.’ So I almost didn’t reply, actually.”

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