Arizona Students Selected for United States Senate Youth Program
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Arizona students selected for United States Senate Youth Program

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  • Alexis Burkhart/Arizona Department of Education

Ryley Goulet And Lydia Chew HP

Two Arizona students 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.

Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake announced Monday that Lydia Chew of Chandler and Ryley Goulet of Gilbert 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.

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Lydia Chew of Chandler

“It is my absolute privilege to help recognize truly remarkable students like Lydia Chew and Ryley Goulet,” said Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas. “These model students are examples of the greatness that can be achieved through our Arizona education system.”

Lydia Chew attends Hamilton High School and serves on the Chandler Mayor’s Youth Commission. Her experiences as president of Model United Nations inducted her into the world of international relations, and she continues to expand her knowledge of United States government through We the People. She encourages voter registration and is a strong proponent of civic education and political activism. As president of Spanish Honor Society and Key Club, she is also a committed community leader.

Ryley Goulet is a senior at Gilbert’s Mesquite High School and serves as the president and peer mentor of his school’s speech and debate team. From the moment he began debating as a freshman, he knew that he had discovered a true passion. His interest in debate also transcends other aspects of his life, leading him to take on roles in Inspire Arizona, and the Gilbert Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council as well as carrying a part-time job. He wishes to study economics and international relations in college and his future interests lie in law or public policy research.

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Ryley Goulet of Gilbert

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.

Chosen as alternates to the 2016 program were Kylie Horne, a resident of Gilbert, who attends Basha High School and Joseph Fairbanks, a resident of Mesa, who attends Skyline High School.

This year’s delegates were designated by Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas.

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.

For more information, please contact: Alexis Burkhart at or 602-542-5072.