MDE News

Mississippi Students Selected for U.S. Senate Youth Program, Receive Scholarship

by Jan 15, 2014


For Immediate Release: January 15, 2013

Mississippi Students Selected for U.S. Senate Youth Program, Receive Scholarship

JACKSON, Miss. – Senators Thad Cochran and Roger F. Wicker today announced the names of the two Mississippi students who have been selected as delegates to the 52nd annual U. S. Senate Youth Program (USSYP) that will be held March 8 – 15, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Luke Kelly of Moss Point and John “Peyton” Kyle of Nesbit were chosen from across the state to be part of the group of 104 student delegates who will attend the program’s Washington Week.

In addition to the program week, the Hearst Foundations provide each of the 104 student delegates 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, as stipulated in S.Res.324; no government funds are utilized.

Kelly attends East Central High School and serves as the Student Council treasurer. He is also president of the Beta Club, the Technology Student Association and the Spanish Club. Kelly is a Category 4 cyclist and is the former state champion in the road race and time trial division. He also participates in cross country and track. He has played classical piano since the 3rd grade. His future plans include medical school, and he hopes to serve as a state senator with an emphasis on healthcare reform.

Kyle attends Desoto Central High School and serves as the president of the DCHS Interact Club. Members of this club participate in service projects that benefit the community and encourage international understanding. Kyle is also a member of the Mayor's Youth Council, and will serve as a governor's page in January 2014. He is an active member of his school and church choirs. After receiving his undergraduate degree in public policy, he plans to obtain a law degree from the University of Mississippi.

Chosen as alternates to the 2014 program were Nathan Barron, a resident of Olive Branch, who attends Olive Branch High School and Wesley Rule, a resident of Ridgeland, who attends Jackson Academy.

The chief educational officer in each state selects the delegates after nomination by teachers and principals. This year’s delegates were designated by Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. 

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 impetus for the program as stated in Senate testimony was ―to increase young Americans’ understanding of the interrelationships of the three branches of government, the caliber and responsibilities of federally elected and appointed officials, and 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 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 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.

While in Washington the student delegates will attend meetings and briefings with Senators and Congressional staff, the President, a Justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies, an Ambassador to the United States and top 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 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 5,000 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 delegate to be elected U.S. Senator; New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the first delegate to be elected governor; Congressman Cory Gardner, the first delegate to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives; former Chief Judge Robert Henry, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit; former Ambassador to West Germany Richard Burt, and former Presidential Advisors Thomas "Mack" McLarty and Karl Rove. Additional notables include former Lt. Governor of Idaho David LeRoy, former President of the Progressive Policy Institute Robert Shapiro, military officers, members of state legislatures, Foreign Service officers, top congressional staff, healthcare providers and university educators

                   Luke Kelly                                             Peyton Kyle

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