Maine Students Selected for United States Senate Youth Program

Students Headed to Washington, D. C. and to Receive $10,000 Scholarship

The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) announces that high school students Ms. Natalie Barbara Emmerson and Mr. Shawn Jiminez will join Senator Susan M. Collins and Senator Angus S. King in representing Maine during the 61st annual USSYP Washington Week, to be held March 4 — 11, 2023. Natalie Emmerson of Woolwich and Shawn Jiminez of West Gardiner were selected from among the state’s top student leaders to be part of the 104 national student delegation. Each delegate will also receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study.

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 provides the most outstanding high school students – two from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity – with 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 $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.

Natalie Emmerson, a senior at Morse High School, serves as the student representative to the Regional School District 1 School Board. She also serves as the president/co-founder of Morse’s Women’s Empowerment Club, a member of National Honor Society and the Maine People’s Alliance, and was a former member of the Feminist Action Board (Hardy Girls Healthy Women). She has accumulated over 200 volunteer hours since freshman year through swimming, climbing, the Teen Library Council and more. She has received AP Scholar With Distinction, AP Capstone Certificate, Phi Beta Kappa Certificate of Recognition, Harvard Book Award, Language Certificate in French from the University of Maine at Augusta, and the Seal of Biliteracy in French. This summer she won delegate of the week for her town at Dirigo State and attended the Cohen Leadership Institute. She swims competitively and hopes to major in political science or government in college.

Shawn Jiminez, a senior at Gardiner Area High School, serves as the president of the Interact Club and has been appointed to several leadership positions throughout his high school years, including serving as the president of the Drama Club and the Maine Junior Classical League. Shawn was named the 2021 Young Maine Volunteer of the year, accumulating over 300 hours of community service. In addition, he was named a 2022 national quarterfinalist in the American Legion Oratorical Contest, the runner-up in the 2021 Maine State Voice of Democracy Contest, a QuestBridge National College Match scholar, a Horatio Alger State Scholar, a National College Board Rural and Small Town Scholar, and a National Coca-Cola Scholar semifinalist.

Chosen as alternates to the 2023 program were Mr. Ryan Hafener, a resident of Hampden, who attends Hampden Academy and Ms. Carolyne Sauda, a resident of Bangor, who attends Bangor 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 Maine delegates and alternates were designated by Pender Makin, Commissioner of Education. During the program week, the student delegates will attend meetings and briefings with senators, the president, a justice of the Supreme Court, and leaders of cabinet agencies, 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 6,000 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 alumnus to be elected U.S. senator; Secretary of Transportation and former Mayor of South Bend Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, the first alumnus to be appointed as a cabinet secretary; 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 2023 annual Senate Advisory Committee are: Senator John Hickenlooper of Colorado, the 2023 USSYP Democratic Co-Chair and Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, the 2023 USSYP Republican Co-Chair. The full USSYP Senate Advisory Committee consists of the vice president of the United States and the Senate majority and minority leaders who annually serve as the program’s Honorary Co-Chairs; two senators, one from each party, serving as acting Co-Chairs who each have keynote speaking roles, and an eight-member bipartisan senate panel, four senators from each party, who lend their names in support. Serving on the Advisory Committee for the upcoming program are: Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Senator Jon Tester of Montana, Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Senator Bill Cassidy, MD, of Louisiana, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Senator Cynthia M. Lummis of Wyoming.

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