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RI Students Selected as Delegates to US Senate Youth Program

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

 

Reilly McGreen, South Kingstown High School student and RI delegate to the 52nd annual US Senate Youth Program.

Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse have announced the names of the two Rhode Island students who have been selected as delegates to the 52nd annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) that will be held March 8 – 15, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Samuel Ackerman of Cumberland and Reilly McGreen of Wakefield were chosen from across the state to be part of the group of 104 student delegates who will attend the program’s 52nd annual Washington Week.

Rhode Island’s Delegates

Ackerman attends Cumberland High School and currently serves as a Rhode Island State Senate page. During his tenure as a page, Ackerman wrote legislation that would have Rhode Island formally ratify the seventeenth amendment. He has participated in the Yale Young Global Scholars Program, and spends time tutoring fellow students in biology and U.S. History. He volunteers for his town’s Youth Commission and the Rhode Island Democratic Party. Ackerman participates in parliamentary debate and the Future Business Leaders of America, and holds titles of state champion in both.

For Ackerman, the news of his selection could not have come at a more surprising moment. "I first received news of winning the scholarship in quite an unexpected manner," Ackerman told GoLocal. "During an orientation at my high school where I was to give a speech, my principal called me to the stage of the auditorium, and before I spoke he revealed to me and the audience that I won the scholarship. I was so exceedingly ecstatic that I was at a loss of words when giving the speech, and shortly after, I was shuffling through the hallways beaming incessantly."

"Being chosen for the U.S. Senate Youth Program is definitely one of the most fulfilling accomplishments of my life," added Ackerman, who is the founder and president of the Rhode Island High School Democrats. "I have a passion for public policy and political affairs, so to have the opportunity to be immersed in the center of these affairs is a dream come true that will provide incomparable perspectives. I also feel particularly honored to be representing Rhode Island, as it has been my lifelong home and much of my inspiration to engage politically has come from the civic opportunities available in Rhode Island."

According to McGreen, who attends South Kingstown High School, the news was a dream come true. "I received the news from my guidance counselor, who called me down to her office and shook my hand and told me I had won the United States Senate Youth Scholarship. I was extremely excited. As someone who loves to study, talk about, and be involved in politics, this was a dream come true," McGreen told GoLocal.

"It is a tremendous honor to be representing the State of Rhode Island as a delegate to the United States Senate Youth Program," said McGreen, who is is an intern on Providence Mayor Angel Taveras’s gubernatorial campaign. "I love politics and aspire to one day run for office, and this amazing opportunity affords me the chance to learn more about our government from our nation's leaders, including the President of the United States himself," McGreen continued.

McGreen serves as Student Council president and editor-in-chief of the South Kingstown High School newspaper. He is involved in a wide variety of activities, including four years on the wrestling and tennis teams and serving as captain for both. He serves as a representative on the Rhode Island Second District Congressional Youth Cabinet, working with Congressman James Langevin.

US Senate Youth Program

The USSYP was created by Senate Resolution 324 in 1962 and has been sponsored by the Senate and fully funded by The Hearst Foundations since inception. Originally proposed by Senators Kuchel, Mansfield, Dirksen and Humphrey, the impetus for the program as stated in Senate testimony was ―to increase young Americans’ understanding of the interrelationships of the three branches of government, the caliber and responsibilities of federally elected and appointed officials, and the vital importance of democratic decision making not only for America but for people around the world.

Each year this extremely competitive merit-based program brings 104 of the most outstanding high school students — two from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity — to Washington, D.C. for an intensive week-long study of the federal government and the people who lead it. In addition to the program week, The Hearst Foundations provide each of the 104 student delegates with a $5,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs. Transportation and all expenses for Washington Week are also provided by The Hearst Foundations, as stipulated in S.Res.324; no government funds are utilized.

Selection Process

The chief educational officer in each state selects the delegates after nomination by teachers and principals. This year’s delegates were designated by Ms. Deborah A. Gist, Commissioner of Education. Rhode Island’s delegates, as well as those from around the country, rank academically in the top one percent of their states among high school juniors and seniors.

Delegates’ Responsibilities

While in Washington the student delegates will attend meetings and briefings with Senators and Congressional staff, the President, a Justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies, an Ambassador to the United States and top members of the national media. The students will also tour many of the national monuments and several museums and they will stay at the historic Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C.

Famous Alumni

Among the many distinguished alumni are: Senator Susan Collins, the first delegate to be elected U.S. Senator; New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the first delegate to be elected governor; Congressman Cory Gardner, the first delegate to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives; former Chief Judge Robert Henry, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit; former Ambassador to West Germany Richard Burt, and former Presidential Advisors Thomas "Mack" McLarty and Karl Rove. Additional notables include former Lt. Governor of Idaho David LeRoy, former President of the Progressive Policy Institute Robert Shapiro, military officers, members of state legislatures, Foreign Service officers, top congressional staff, healthcare providers and university educators.

To learn more about the United States Senate Youth Program, click here.

 

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