Indian River, Caesar Rodney students selected for U.S. Senate Youth Program
Senators Thomas R. Carper and Christopher A. Coons today announced the names of the two students who have been selected as delegates to the 54th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) that will be held March 5 – 12, 2016 in Washington, D.C. Charles Megginson IV of Millsboro and Laura Wagner of Dover were chosen from across the state to be part of the group of 104 student delegates who will attend the program’s 54th annual Washington Week.
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 is “to increase young Americans’ understanding of the interrelationships of the three branches of government, learn the caliber and responsibilities of federally elected and appointed officials, and emphasize 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. The overall mission of the program is to help instill within each class of USSYP student delegates more profound knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service. In addition to the program week, The Hearst Foundations provide each student 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.
Charles Megginson IV attends Sussex Central High School in the Indian River School District and serves as the vice president of the Delaware Business Professionals of America. He has served for two terms as the executive president of the Student Council. He is the captain of his school’s Mock Trial Team and plans to follow this career path by studying political science in college and going to law school. Megginson is a member of Boy Scout Troop 89 and is working on attaining the rank of Eagle Scout. He is a student in the International Baccalaureate program and takes University of Delaware courses through the Academic Challenge program. Outside of school, Charlie enjoys camping and traveling.
Laura Wagner attends Caesar Rodney High School and serves as the president of the Blue-Gold Unified Club and Best Buddies Club. She is also a captain of her school’s cross country team and volunteers within her community. She is applying to Georgetown University, Swarthmore College, American University, Duke University, University of Virginia, and University of Delaware. After college she plans to attend law school, become a public defender, and later run for office with the goal of serving in the United States Congress.
Chosen as alternates to the 2016 program were: Vilas Annavarapu, a resident of Newark who attends Charter School of Wilmington and Adam Udovich, a resident of Hockessin who attends Cab Calloway School of the Arts. Both schools are in the Red Clay Consolidated School District.
The chief educational officer in each state selects the delegates after nomination by teachers and principals. While in Washington the student delegates attend meetings and briefings with Senators, House Representatives and Congressional staff, the President, a Justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies, an Ambassador to the United States and senior 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.
In addition to exceptional leadership abilities and a strong commitment to volunteer work, the student delegates generally rank academically in the top one percent of their states among high school juniors and seniors. Now more than 5,000 strong, alumni of the program continue to excel and develop impressive qualities that are often directed toward public service.
Among the many distinguished alumni are: Senator Susan Collins, the first alumna to be elected U.S. Senator; Senator Cory Gardner, the second alumnus to be elected U.S. Senator and the first to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives; New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the first alumnus to be elected governor; 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.
Members of the USSYP 2016 54th annual Senate Advisory Committee are: Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, Republican Co-Chair; Senator Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii, Democratic Co-Chair; Senate Advisory Members: Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Michael B. Enzi (R-WY), David Perdue (R-GA), Tim Scott (R-SC), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Robert P. Casey (D-PA), Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT). Each year, the Honorary Co-Chairs of the program are the Vice President of the United States and the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders.