The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) announced that high school students Ms. Aarushi Verma and Ms. Caroline Blair Waldmann will join Senator Mike Lee and Senator Mitt Romney in representing Utah during the 59th annual USSYP Washington Week, to be held March 14—17, 2021. Aarushi Verma, a senior at Skyline High School, and Caroline Waldmann, a senior at Park City High School, were selected from among the state’s top student leaders to be part of the 104 national student delegation. They will each also receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study. Due to the pandemic, the 2021 program will break ground as the first-ever fully virtual Washington Week, and is designed to be a highly interactive and exciting education and leadership forum for the nation’s most outstanding student leaders.
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. Originally proposed by Senators Kuchel, Mansfield, Dirksen and Humphrey, the Senate leadership of the day, 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 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. However, this year, the program will be held online. The overall mission of the program is to help instill within each class of USSYP student delegates 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 $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs. All expenses for Washington Week are also provided by The Hearst Foundations; as stipulated in S.Res.324, no government funds are utilized.
Aarushi Verma, a senior at Skyline High School, has served as the mayor of the Millcreek Youth Council. She is currently leading a campaign to commit her school district to a transition to 100% clean energy by 2030, working alongside students, faculty, and community members. In addition, she serves as a speaker for Wasteless Solutions, a nonprofit working to reduce food waste in Utah. In 2019, she represented the organization as a presenter at the 68th United Nations Civil Society Conference and is currently working on creating a guidebook on waste diversion advocacy. Aarushi also serves as a coordinator of the Salt Lake City Sunrise Movement Hub, working to elect Green New Deal champions to government, while acting as Lincoln Douglas captain for her high school debate team. She plans to pursue a degree in public policy and eventually work as an environmental lawyer or political campaign advisor.
Caroline Waldmann, a senior at Park City High School, serves as co-president of the National Honor Society. As an Ambassador Girl Scout, an event lead on her Speech and Debate Team, and a Teen Ambassador for March For Our Lives Utah, she keeps herself busy. She is involved with the Christian Center of Park City and leads the Utah chapter of Beyond Resolved, a student-led organization devoted to increasing the equality and accessibility of high school speech and debate. Caroline currently plans on attending the University of Chicago, where she will study public policy, economics, and philosophy with the goal of attending law school.
Chosen as alternates to the 2021 program were Ms. Ashton Pelley, a resident of Sandy, who attends Jordan High School and Mr. Vishal Jammulapati, a resident of Salt Lake City, who attends West High School.
Delegates and alternates are selected by the state departments of education nationwide and the District of Columbia and Department of Defense Education Activity, after nomination by teachers and principals. The chief state school officer for each jurisdiction confirms the final selection. This year’s Utah delegates and alternates were designated by Dr. Sydnee Dickson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
During the program week, the student delegates will attend online meetings and briefings with senators, the president, a justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies and senior members of the national media, among others.
In addition to outstanding leadership abilities and a strong commitment to volunteer work, the student delegates rank academically in the top one percent of their states among high school juniors and seniors. Now more than 5,800 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 alumnus to be elected U.S. senator; Secretary of Transportation and former Mayor of South Bend Indiana, Pete Buttigieg; former 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; former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the first alumnus 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, former presidential advisors Thomas "Mack" McLarty and Karl Rove. Additional notables include former Lt. Governor of Idaho David Leroy, Provost of Wake Forest University Rogan Kersh, military officers, members of state legislatures, Foreign Service officers, top congressional staff, healthcare providers and other university educators.
Members of the U. S. Senate Youth Program 2021 annual Senate Advisory Committee are: Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Democratic Co-Chair; Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, Republican Co-Chair; Advisory Members: Senator Thomas R. Carper (D-DE); Senator Christopher S. Murphy (D-CT); Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ); Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR); Senator Richard Burr (R NC); Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND); Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Senator Roger F. Wicker (R-MS). Each year, the Honorary Co-Chairs of the program are the vice president of the United States and the Senate majority and minority leaders.