There she sat, in her new black suit, in the first lady's box at the State of the Union address. So it shouldn't have been a surprise when President Barack Obama started talking about Kathy Proctor, the 55-year-old student retraining for a biotechnology career at Forsyth Technical Community College.
But when Proctor heard her name and all the network and cable TV cameras zoomed in, her amazement was fully evident to any half-decent lip reader. She turned to her seatmates on the left and right, smiled, and said, "That's me!"
It was a moment seen by millions of viewers - and a proud achievement in what has been an extraordinary journey for Proctor.
"It was unreal," she said Wednesday in a phone interview from the airport in Washington, where she was stranded by weather delays.
The mother of two from Archdale met Obama in December at Forsyth Tech in Winston-Salem, where the president delivered a speech on the economy and declared this a "Sputnik moment" for America. He had toured Proctor's biology lab, shook her hand and asked the dozen or so students whether anyone had a story to tell.