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Kansas students selected for United States Senate Youth Program

Posted: Jan 16, 2018
Categories: KSDE
Author: Ann Bush

Two Kansas students have been selected as delegates to the 56th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) that will take place March 3-10, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

Jaron Paul Caffrey, of Mount Hope, and Sandhya Ravikumar, of Lawrence, were selected to be a part of the group of 104 student delegates who will attend Washington Week. They each will receive a $10,000 scholarship for undergraduate study.

Caffrey is a senior at Haven High School, Haven Unified School District 312, and is senior class president and student council vice president. He also serves as co-president of the Haven Kansas Association of Youth and volunteers on a Kansas gubernatorial campaign. During the summer of 2016, Caffrey volunteered on Dr. Ed Berger’s successful campaign for the Kansas Senate; United States Sen. Jerry Moran’s reelection campaign; and other races at the local, state and national level.

Caffrey, son of Paul and Tami Caffrey, plans to attend Washburn University to pursue majors in political science and economics.

Ravikumar, a senior at Lawrence Free State High School, Lawrence USD 497, serves as the director of Youth Outreach for the Kansas Women’s Environmental Network. She also is founder and president of Free State High School’s Ascent, which is a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math outreach program for women and minorities.

Ravikumar, daughter of Ravi Ravikumar, is the speech captain of Free State High School’s speech and debate team, and a violinist in the Free State Symphonic Orchestra. She plans to study political science and physics.

Chosen as alternates to the 2018 program were Phillip Joseph Pyle, of Eudora, who attends Eudora High School, and Benjamin Joseph Wright, of Abilene, who attends Abilene High School.

Delegates and alternates are selected by the state departments of education, after nomination by teachers and principals. The Chief State School Officer or Commissioner of Education for each jurisdiction confirms the final selection.

This year’s Kansas delegates and alternates were designated by Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson.

While in Washington, D.C., the student delegates attend meetings and briefings with senators, members of the House of Representatives, 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 also will tour many of the national monuments and several museums, and they will stay at the  historic Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C. 

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. 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, the 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 weeklong 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 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. Transportation and all expenses for Washington Week are also provided by The Hearst Foundations.

In addition to outstanding leadership abilities and a strong commitment to volunteer work, the student delegates rank academically in the top 1 percent of their states among high school juniors and seniors. Now more than 5,500 strong, alumni of the program continue to excel and develop impressive qualities that are often directed toward public service.

Members of the U. S. Senate Youth Program 2018 annual Senate Advisory Committee are: Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, co-chair; Sen. Angus S. King Jr., I-Maine, co-chair; and Bipartisan Senate Advisory Members John Barrasso, R-Wyoming; Thad Cochran, R-Mississippi; Deb Fischer, R-Nebraska; Marco Rubio, R-Florida; Kamala D. Harris, D-California; Joe Manchin III, D-West Virginia; Edward J. Markey, D-Massachusetts; and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii.

Each year, the honorary co-chairs of the program are the vice president of the United States and the Senate majority and minority leaders.

For questions about delegates, alternates or the selection process, contact Tamla Miller, the Kansas selection administrator, at tmiller@ksde.org or (785) 296-4950.


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