Hoeven, Heitkamp Congratulate North Dakota Students Selected for U.S. Senate Youth Program

Students Will Spend a Week in Washington, Win $5,000 Scholarship

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp today announced that the United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) has selected Sara Hatlewick of Jamestown and Alexis Vannett of Fargo to serve as delegates to the program’s 54th annual Washington Week. The program, which features 104 student delegates from across the country, will be held March 5 – 12.

“North Dakota’s students do an excellent job both in the classroom and in their communities,” the senators said in a joint statement. “Sara and Alexis have demonstrated their commitment to educational excellence, which is why they were selected to take part in the prestigious U.S. Senate Youth Program this year. As they represent our state, they will have a chance to connect with peers from across our nation, develop their knowledge of the federal government and how it works and lay the foundation for their success in college and beyond.”

Hatlewick attends Gackle-Streeter Public School and serves as the secretary-treasurer of her class and as FFA chapter president. She has been a participant at the People to People Leadership Summit at Harvard and has received the Danforth I Dare You national award. She is active in FFA, 4-H, track, archery, chorus and speech. She is also involved in her community where she mentors students and serves with a local food drive she founded.

Vannett attends Fargo North High School where she serves as the Student Body president. She is the Key Club secretary and a member of the National Honor Society. She has served as a senator in Girls State, and is an intern in the North Dakota governor’s office. She has raised funds for the Great Plains Food Bank. Vannett plays guitar, piano, and sings, and hopes to major in political science and government.

The USSYP was created in 1962 by Senate Resolution 324, and has been sponsored by the Senate and fully funded by The Hearst Foundations since inception. 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 very 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 program’s mission is to help instill within each student delegate a more profound knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service.

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 the program week, The Hearst Foundations will provide each student 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 because, as stipulated in S.Res.324, no government funds are utilized.

The chief educational officer in each state selects the delegates after nomination by teachers and principals. This year’s delegates were designated by Ms. Kirsten K. Baesler, Superintendent of Public Instruction. Dawson Schefter of Langdon and Sedalia Mahlum of Bismarck were chosen as alternates to the 2016 program.

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 include Senators Susan Collins Senator and Cory Gardner, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former presidential advisor Karl Rove.