'Rock Star' Students Inspire Guard Officers
(March 20, 2010)
|WASHINGTON (March 16, 2010) - Two National Guard officers helped give 104 high
school juniors and seniors a glimpse of the workings of government that included
meetings with the president and a Supreme Court justice last week.|
Watched by an audience that includes members of the Senate Youth Program, a Soldier guards the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., on a rainy March 12. National Guuard officers served as military mentors for the 104 high school students selected for a week in the nation's capital.
"The level of access that we got this week is unparalleled," said Army Capt.
Jamie Davis, a National Guard Bureau public affairs officer, who served as
military mentor for the students. "We got to meet the president; we were up on
the eighth floor of the State Department; we got to spend an hour with a Supreme
Court justice. These students have a real good grasp of the magnitude of this
and the fact that they have access that most people will never see in their
The U.S. Senate Youth Program, established in 1962 by a U.S. Senate Resolution,
is a unique educational experience for outstanding high school students
interested in pursuing careers in public service, according to
The 104 high school students represented each of the states, the District of
Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity. The program gave them
a glimpse of the inner workings of the executive, legislative and judicial
branches of government.
"Our job is to be a liaison with the military," said Air Force Maj. Otis Hooper,
a pilot with the D.C. Air National Guard's 201st Airlift Squadron based at Joint
Base Andrews Naval Air Facility, Md. "I was impressed by the intelligence of
these young students. They all are extremely passionate. They have the
initiative to really make a difference."
The kids also met with an ambassador and several senators and representatives
during their weeklong visit to the national capital region.
Each state and territory has its own selection process, but most of the visitors
had written essays, been interviewed and demonstrated merit through school and
If the intent of the Senate Youth Program is in part to inspire young people to
consider government service careers, it succeeded.
"There were a couple of females that thought that military service was something
that was out of their reach," Davis said. "... [the experience] gave them a
sense that, 'Hey, I can do this too.'"
Davis said two young female students asked about Reserve Officer Training Corps
programs and about joining the National Guard.
"They're surprised to know that you can be in the military as well as be a
civilian," Hooper said.
Davis said he was struck by the intelligence and drive of the students and how
well 104 people from widely divergent backgrounds got along.
"If I was looking at the future of America based on what I saw here, I would say
the future's very bright," he said. "These are rock stars in their communities -
just a brilliant group of kids."
The kids weren't the only ones to benefit from the program.
"Their enthusiasm is contagious," Hooper said. "They really have excited me and
energized me to get back out there and really apply myself, because these youths
are depending on our service."
In addition to the capital visit, each delegate receives a $5,000 college
scholarship for undergraduate studies, with encouragement to pursue coursework
in history and political science.
Article and photo by Army SSgt. Jim Greenhill
National Guard Bureau public affairs office
Army News Service /
Comment on this article