State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Announces California High School Students for the 2020 U.S. Senate Youth Program

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced two outstanding high school students to represent California in the 58th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP), sponsored by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

Violet Wang of Petaluma (Sonoma County), a senior at Casa Grande High School in Petaluma City Schools, and Arushi Avachat of Pleasanton (Alameda County), a senior at Foothill High School in the Pleasanton Unified School District, were selected for this highly competitive program for their remarkable leadership qualities, scholastic achievement, and strong commitment to their schools and communities.           

“These students have demonstrated exceptional leadership. I am impressed and inspired by what they have already accomplished in their young lives,” Thurmond said. “They have a strong passion for public service and activism and desire to make a difference in the lives of others. I am confident that they will make the most of this opportunity, continuing to make positive contributions, and be excellent representatives for California.”

Thurmond also named two alternates in the event that one or both of the delegates are unable to attend. The first alternate is Olivia Brooke Sally of Castro Valley (Alameda County), a senior at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland. The second alternate is Nathan Viotti of Menlo Park (San Mateo County), a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School in the Sequoia Union High School District.                                            

The delegates and alternates are scheduled to be recognized by the State Board of Education during its January 8–9, 2020, meeting in Sacramento.

Students must be nominated by their high school principal to participate in the program. To qualify for the program, high school juniors or seniors must be actively serving in an elected or appointed leadership position in which they are representing a constituency in organizations related to student government, education, public affairs, and/or community service as well as express an interest in pursuing a career in public service.

A selection committee from the California Department of Education (CDE) reviews eligible nominees, and the awardees are selected based on the quality of their application, demonstrated leadership abilities, academic achievement, involvement in school and community activities, extracurricular activities, and commitment to public service.

The USSYP provides a yearly opportunity for selected students to gain an in-depth view of the Senate and the federal government overall as well as a deeper understanding of the interrelationship of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches, according to the national USSYP website. The program provides a foundation of knowledge and encouragement for those considering a future in public service on the local, state, or national level.

Two student leaders from each state, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity each receive a $10,000 scholarship and attend a one-week all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. from March 7–14, 2020.

For more information, please visit the CDE’s United States Senate Youth Program web page.

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