Arizona students selected for United States Senate Youth Program students to participate in the first online program and to receive $10,000 scholarship - AZEdNews
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Arizona students selected for United States Senate Youth Program students to participate in the first online program and to receive $10,000 scholarship


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  • Morgan Dick   |   Office of Superintendent Kathy Hoffman

The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) announces that high school students Mr. Nathaniel David Mehmert Cross and Ms. Eman Massoud will join Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Senator Mark Kelly in representing Arizona during the 59th annual USSYP Washington Week, to be held March 14 — 17, 2021. Nathaniel Cross of Tucson and Eman Massoud of Gilbert were selected from among the state’s top student leaders to be part of the 104 national student delegation who will each also receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study. Due to the pandemic, the 2021 program will break ground as the first-ever fully virtual Washington Week, and is designed to be a highly interactive and exciting education and leadership forum for the nation’s most outstanding student leaders.

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 Senate leadership of the day, 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 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. However, this year, the program will be held online. 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 $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs. All expenses for Washington Week are also provided by The Hearst Foundations; as stipulated in S.Res.324, no government funds are utilized.

Nathaniel Cross, a junior at Catalina Foothills High School, serves as the secretary of the Pima County Teen Court Bar Association. Born in the United Kingdom, he brings a unique perspective to his academics and activism with Pima County Teen Court. Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, he successfully advocated for the continuation of this program because of the support it provides young people and the proven effect on lowering recidivism. Beyond his activism with Teen Court, Nathaniel remains connected to his community through his club cycling team, El Grupo, a competitive and youth empowerment organization where he serves as the youth representative on the Governing Board of Directors.

Eman Massoud, a senior at Gilbert Classical Academy, serves as a student advisor to the African American Advisory Council at the Arizona Department of Education, a representative for March for Our Lives, and a representative of the Student Legion. She is a member of the Ambassador Club and is active with the Youth Leadership Development Program with Mi Familia Vota. Eman is motivated by the power of equitable representation and has delivered tangible changes in her community by encouraging her school leadership to hire more teachers of color, which led to two new educators of color joining her school by her senior year.

Chosen as alternates to the 2021 program were Ms. Iselle Barrios, a resident of Tucson, who attends University High School and Mr. Ross Nemeth, a resident of Scottsdale, who attends Horizon High School.

Delegates and alternates are selected by the state departments of education nationwide and the District of Columbia and Department of Defense Education Activity, after nomination by teachers and principals. The chief state school officer for each jurisdiction confirms the final selection. This year’s Arizona delegates and alternates were designated by Ms. Kathy Hoffman, Superintendent of Education.

During the program week, the student delegates will attend online meetings and briefings with senators, the president, a justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies and senior members of the national media, among others.

In addition to outstanding leadership abilities and a strong commitment to volunteer work, the student delegates rank academically in the top one percent of their states among high school juniors and seniors. Now more than 5,800 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 alumnus to be elected U.S. senator; Secretary of Transportation and former Mayor of South Bend Indiana, Pete Buttigieg; former 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; former 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, former presidential advisors Thomas “Mack” McLarty and Karl Rove. Additional notables include former Lt. Governor of Idaho David Leroy, Provost of Wake Forest University Rogan Kersh, military officers, members of state legislatures, Foreign Service officers, top congressional staff, healthcare providers and other university educators.

Members of the U. S. Senate Youth Program 2021 annual Senate Advisory Committee are: Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Democratic Co-Chair; Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, Republican Co-Chair; Advisory Members: Senator Thomas R. Carper (D-DE); Senator Christopher S. Murphy (D-CT); Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ); Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR); Senator Richard Burr (R-NC); Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND); Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Senator Roger F. Wicker (R-MS). Each year, the Honorary Co-Chairs of the program are the vice president of the United States and the Senate majority and minority leaders.

For more information please visit: www.ussenateyouth.org