Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte announced the names of the two New Hampshire students who have been selected as delegates to the 52nd annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) that will be held March 8 – 15, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Jesse Austin of Danbury and Leah Stagnone of Litchfield were chosen from across the state to be part of the group of 104 student delegates who will attend the program’s 52nd 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 was “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.”
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 of the 104 student delegates 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.
Jesse Austin is a junior at Newfound Regional High School and serves as his class president and Student Council secretary. He participates in track, cross country, and recreational archery. He is a member of the National Honor Society and serves as the clerk of the International Thespian Society. In addition, he is involved in other various school and community organizations, such as the Student/Staff Senate and S.A.L.T. Ministries. He plans to major in political science.
Leah Stagnone attends Campbell High School and serves on the Student Council and is also a School Board representative. She has served on the Student Council for four years and Leah embraces the school’s core values of Responsibility, Respect, Courage and Character, and has been successful in bringing change and overcoming resistance with influential leadership. She is a dedicated student who excels academically and athletically. She would like to attend Dartmouth or Georgetown and study international relations.
Chosen as alternates to the 2014 program were Alexander Rose, a resident of Exeter, who attends Exeter High School and Katherine Emley, a resident of Pike, who attends Woodsville High School.
The chief educational officer in each state selects the delegates after nomination by teachers and principals. This year’s delegates were designated by Virginia M. Barry, Ph.D., Commissioner of Education.
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; Congressman Cory Gardner, the first delegate to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives; 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.
For questions about your state’s delegates, alternates or selection process, please go to www.education.nh.gov/recognition/us_senate.htm or contact your state selection administrator: Lori Kincaid (Temple) at (603) 271-6646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.