Courtesy of Cazares family

(WASHINGTON) — The 18-year-old sister of a Robb Elementary School shooting victim will be among President Joe Biden’s guests for the State of the Union address on Thursday.

Jazmin Cazares has been shining a light on the nation’s gun violence problem after her 9-year-old sister, Jackie Cazares, was among the 21 victims who lost their lives when a shooter opened fire on two classrooms on May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas.

“I was really shocked to be invited,” she told ABC News. “I feel like it’s another opportunity to spotlight what gun violence does to small communities.”

The recent high school graduate and college student has been traveling the country, speaking at rallies, conferences and making television appearances in an effort to change gun control laws in the United States.

Along with her parents, Javier and Gloria Cazares, Jazmin has been fighting to fulfill a promise the family made to Jackie shortly after she passed away in a local hospital from her gunshot wound to her chest. They promised that they would continue to fight for justice and to tell Jackie’s story to shed light on what gun violence can do to a family and those who are left to cope with the aftermath of a shooting.

“It’s so important to me that this issue is still being talked about, it can’t be forgotten,” said Jazmin Cazares. 

She said she feels frustrated when the public moves on once shootings are no longer getting the headlines.

She added, “There are times that I get discouraged, but this shows me that we are still being invited to speak out, whether it be in interviews, in podcasts, panels or being invited to the State of the Union. As much as I fear that Jackie is forgotten, I’m being proved wrong by being invited to events like this.”

In the 21 months since the shooting, Jazmin Cazares has turned her sadness and pain into activism as she traveled to Austin, Texas, to urge state lawmakers to pass gun safety legislation and has made frequent trips to Washington, D.C., to demand change. Thursday will be her 15th visit to the U.S. Capitol since the shooting.

She added, “I’m speechless that President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden thought of me, there are no words to describe how I feel. The recognition is overwhelming.”

Jazmin Cazares said that while there has been little movement to change laws that would raise the age to purchase guns to 21 or ban assault rifles, she will never stop fighting for her little sister and other victims of gun violence.

“I hope what I do inspires other people to speak out the way we have,” she said.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.