President Obama featured a Washington Heights teen in his State of the Union address Tuesday, lauding him as an example of an immigrant child who overcame challenges and is on his way to college.
Estiven Rodriguez was a guest of first lady Michelle Obama at the State of the Union. He came to the U.S. with his family from the Dominican Republic when he was 9 years old and began to excel while attending Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School, according to the White House.
"Estiven Rodriguez couldn't speak a word of English when he moved to New York City at age 9," Obama said in his address. "But last month, thanks to the support of great teachers and an innovative tutoring program, he led a march of his classmates, through a crowd of cheering parents and neighbors, from their high school to the post office, where they mailed off their college applications. And this son of a factory worker just found out he's going to college this fall."
Obama said Race to the Top has helped raise expectations and performance, and student loan reforms are helping more people attend college.
But the president added that he wants high-quality early education to be available to every child, for colleges to offer more hands-on training and for college graduates who feel trapped by loans to find some relief.