University of Hartford freshman is guest of honor at State of the Union

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BROOKLYN -- Anthony Mendez, 19, received the phone call of his life last Wednesday when he was asked to be the personal guest of First Lady Michelle Obama to the State of the Union Address Tuesday night.

"I usually don't pick up blank numbers but I picked it up and she said hi this is Lisa from Washington D.C.," recalled Mendez. "We're calling to ask if you wanted to be a guest of Michelle Obama at the State of the Union, and of course you can't say no to that."

Mendez went through a lot to get to this moment. He grew up with his mother and three sibling; his best friend was shot and killed in ninth grade; and during high school Anthony's family was evicted from their home. The teenager put himself through high school while living for six months in a homeless shelter.

Upon graduation from high school last summer, Mendez met First Lady Michelle Obama and shared his story with her, which is what led to the invitation to the SOTU.

Mendez is now a freshman at the University of Hartford and is studying political science. He hopes his story inspires others to overcome adversity and reach for their dreams.

"I want people to know the story," he says. "That's why I say it out there, even with my friends on the track team, I was captain, I'd tell them I come from a bad background. I struggled. Everyone struggles. Everybody wants to act like they have problems. It's just about how you use those struggles and overcome them."