White House

Aspiring teacher to watch speech from first lady's box

WASHINGTON — Should the television camera pan to the first lady's box at the State of the Union address Wednesday night and find a young former Marine in a dark blue suit, viewers can expect to see a smile.

Julia Frost, an aspiring teacher who left the military on disability, tends to find the good in life.

She's also the sort of person who treats a visit with first lady Michelle Obama with the same joy as an opportunity to tutor a child at the Marines' Camp Lejeune.

"I was excited that day because I just learned I get to tutor a student at one of the elementary students on base," Frost recalled of how she received the invitation last week.

"I was like, 'Yay, great news,' and then my phone rang and it was the White House and I was like, 'Yay, even more great news!'"

Maybe the optimism is what caught the administration's attention.

Frost, 23, who grew up in Elk Grove, attends Coastal Carolina Community College on the military GI education bill. A former trumpeter for the Marine band stationed in Hawaii, she left the military after developing chronic jaw problems.

When she and her husband, Marine tuba player Ryan Frost, shifted to Lejeune, Frost went back to school.

She is unabashed in her appreciation for Coastal Carolina, which caters to military families.

And she is enrolled in North Carolina's two-plus-two program, which allows her to split her education between the community college and a state university. She hopes to graduate in 2012 with an elementary education degree from UNC-Wilmington.

"That's the most amazing thing ever," Frost said.

The State of the Union invitation has its roots in October, when Frost met Jill Biden, wife of the vice president, at her college in Jacksonville.

Biden, a community college professor in the Washington area, was on a tour of local schools in military areas and wanted to meet some students. Frost fit the criteria: former Marine, wife of an active-duty Marine, good student, using GI money, participating in a special state program to become a teacher.

"Oh my gosh, it was awesome," Frost said of the meeting.

Frost said she's thrilled about the goal that Biden and the administration have for getting more former military and military spouses into the college pipeline to become teachers.

"I had a great run with the Marines, and I get here and I'm super-stoked about the two-plus-two program and here I am!" Frost said.

"I don't know how it all happened," she said. "Domino effect! I'm ready to hit the floor running and I mean, this program and the GI bill and everything this government is doing, this is what's going to re-build America right here, and I get to be a part of it."

And so she will, as a guest tonight in the first lady's box at the State of the Union. Look for her on TV.