DoDEA students selected for 2016 United States Senate Youth Program

DoDEA students selected for 2016 United States Senate Youth Program

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ALEXANDRIA, VA — January 26, 2016 — Mr. Thomas Brady, Director, Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), today announced Kyelee Fitts, Aanand Shah and Caitlin Hertzendorf as delegates to the 54th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) to be held March 5 - 12 in Washington, D.C.

The DODEA students were selected from among hundreds of applicants worldwide to attend the 54th annual Washington Week program and to each receive a $5,000 college scholarship.

The USSYP was created by Senate Resolution 324 in 1962 and has been sponsored by the Senate and fully funded by The Hearst Foundations. 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 DODEA - 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 a 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.

Kyelee Fitts attends Seoul American High School and serves as the Student Body president. She has been an active member of the Seoul American Model United Nations chapter, currently serving as the secretary general. In addition to running, she enjoys playing the violin, volunteering in her community, and reading. Kyelee hopes to obtain a bachelor's degree in a STEM-related field or international relations and is considering careers in science, humanitarian aid work, or public policy.

Aanand Shah attends Kadena High School in Okinawa, Japan and serves as his Class treasurer. He is a member of many academic organizations including the National Honor Society and Harvard Model Congress. He holds top rank in his senior class. Aanand plans to study economics and finance and then move on to obtain a law degree. Upon completion of his degrees, Aanand wants to join the military as a Judge Advocate General or go into public service as a legislator. His hobbies include volunteering, Judo, basketball, volleyball, and scuba diving.

Caitlin Hertzendorf attends Fort Campbell High School at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. She is the vice president of the Student Council and the Student Body. She was elected state treasurer of Kentucky Girls State in 2015 and is president of the French Club, former secretary of National Honor Society, and treasurer of the Drama Club. Caitlin is a Red Cross youth volunteer at the Blanchfield Army Community Hospital pharmacy, a Girl Scout Teen Ambassador and a Vacation Bible School volunteer. Her memberships also include her school's Student-to-Student Club, Future Educators of America and Model United Nations. Caitlin plans to pursue a bachelor's degree in either biology or education and is considering careers in healthcare or teaching.

Chosen as alternates to the 2016 program were John Casey who attends Ramstein High School in Wiesbaden Germany; Patrick Ramirez who attends Vilseck High School in Vilseck, Germany; and Mona Lane, who attends Fort Campbell High School in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

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. Among the many distinguished alumni are: Senator Susan Collins, the first delegate to be elected U.S. Senator; 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; New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the first delegate 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, 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.

DoDEA plans, directs, coordinates, and manages pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education programs for school-age children of Department of Defense personnel who would otherwise not have access to high-quality public education. DoDEA schools are located in Europe, the Pacific, Western Asia, the Middle East, Cuba, the United States, Guam, and Puerto Rico. DoDEA also provides support and resources to Local Educational Agencies throughout the United States that serve children of military families.

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