Maine students selected for United States Senate Youth Program

Two Maine students will travel to Washington, D.C. for a week in March to serve as delegates to the United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP).

Muna Mohamed of Lewiston and Andrew Sandweiss of Bangor were chosen from across the state to be part of the group of 104 student delegates who will attend the program’s 53rd annual Washington Week.

The USSYP was created 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. It has been sponsored by the Senate and fully funded by The Hearst Foundations since inception.

Each year, this 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 of the 104 student delegates with a $5,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs.

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.

Muna Mohamed attends Lewiston High School, serves as the senior class president, and is also the student representative for her school board. She is involved with Mock Trial, the Civil Rights Team and Speech Team, among other projects and community service activities. Mohamed enjoys public speaking and found her voice after attending Seeds of Peace, a conflict resolution camp. Her future plans include pursuing her interests in education, political science, and international affairs.

Andrew Sandweiss attends Bangor High School and serves as the student council president. He is editor of the school newspaper and co-captain of the Public Forum Debate Team. He has authored a work of fiction, The Peruvian Exposition, and participates regularly in local, national and international conferences and competitions. Sandweiss was an invited speaker at the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research’s climate change conference in Abu Dhabi. His passion is transportation and he strives to become an urban planner. He will attend Yale University in the fall of 2015.

Chosen as alternates to the 2015 program were Justin Ramos, a resident of Skowhegan, who attends Skowhegan Area High School and Jacob Bazinet, a resident of Auburn, who attends Edward Little High School.

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.

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 delegate to be elected U.S. Senator; New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the first delegate to be elected governor; and Congressman Cory Gardner, the first delegate to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

For more information, contact Maine DOE Social Studies Content Specialist Kristie Littlefield at kristie.littlefield@maine.gov or 624-6828.