In March, 104 highschool college students from across the nation will collect in Washington, D.C., to take part within the U.S. Senate Youth Program, now in its 61st 12 months. This 12 months additionally marks the primary in-person participation in this system in three years because of the COVID–19 pandemic.
Becoming a member of them within the nation’s capital are 17 U.S. navy officers who will act as advisors and mentors for the scholars as they journey all through the capital studying concerning the inside workings of presidency and assembly with the leaders who make it occur.
Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Protection for Strategic and Neighborhood Engagement, Melanie Fonder Kaye, oversees DOD’s annual assist of the USSYP, which incorporates the aggressive number of navy officers to function mentors, internet hosting the contributors on the Pentagon and offering ceremonial musical and coloration guard assist.
“The USSYP has lengthy motivated the following era of leaders on the significance of public service,” she stated. “And thru our navy mentors, contributors study firsthand about DOD’s mission, the individuals who serve out and in of uniform and the way nationwide safety works with our home establishments to ship coverage options at residence and overseas.”
Military Capt. Joseph L. Puntoriero, who serves with Particular Operations Command Central at MacDill Air Power Base, Florida, was instantly drawn to volunteer after studying about this system. Having attended comparable applications in his youth had left a long-lasting impression on him. Now, he stated, he’ll be capable to do the identical.
“As a navy mentor, throughout this system, I can be performing as each a bridge and compass for a small group of the scholars chosen to attend the USSYP,” he stated. “This entails navigating the social etiquette of Capitol Hill to making sure the scholars are ready for his or her days of briefings [or] actions to easily answering the scholars’ questions relating to the navy.”
The USSYP started in 1962 with a Senate decision “to extend younger Individuals’ understanding of the interrelationships of the three branches of presidency, the caliber and obligations of federally elected and appointed officers, and the important significance of democratic choice making not just for America however for folks all over the world.”
Whereas within the nation’s capital, the delegates are anticipated to go to a wide range of areas, together with Mount Vernon, the Library of Congress, the Supreme Courtroom, the Pentagon, the U.S. Senate, Arlington Nationwide Cemetery and the White Home.
I hope the youth contributors will achieve the knowledge to humbly use their distinctive abilities to imagine the best obligations of compassionate public service.”
Marine Corps Lt. Col. Anja Loomis, Assistant Senior Navy Mentor, U.S. Senate Youth Program
Among the many scholar contributors — 104 in all — are two from every state, two from Washington, D.C., and two representing the Division of Protection Training Exercise colleges. Whereas within the nation’s capital, contributors are anticipated to satisfy Senators, a justice of the Supreme Courtroom and different senior leaders from the departments of State and Protection in addition to different govt businesses.
Puntoriero stated he additionally hopes that as a navy officer, he will even be capable to assist scholar contributors study concerning the U.S. navy on the identical time they study the remainder of the federal government.
“The navy is greater than occupations and wars,” he stated. “There are a lot of pathways inside navy service. I had no concept I might be a part of the navy at their age — I made that call two months earlier than graduating undergrad — and I really wish to give them a holistic view about what their short-term future may maintain.”
For Navy Lt. Laureen Hickey, a fleet intelligence watch officer with the U.S. Sixth Fleet in Naples, Italy, this would be the second time she has served as a mentor for the USSYP, having served nearly final 12 months. One takeaway from her expertise as a mentor final 12 months, she stated, is her impression of the scholar contributors.
“Not solely are these the highest college students within the nation, they’re inquisitive, compassionate, respectful and supportive of one another, that are the qualities which are most admirable and can carry them by life,” she stated. “These college students will go on to be leaders of their fields, whichever they select.”
Hickey stated that for among the college students she labored with final 12 months, it had been the primary time they’d met an individual within the navy.
“Many college students have been stunned that the mentors did not match the ‘typical mildew’ they anticipated of navy members,” she stated. “I hope that the scholars study that navy members are as numerous because the nation we serve, and that regardless that all of us put on a uniform, we’re all distinctive people. I additionally hope they study on this week of public service that the navy offers many distinctive alternatives that lots of them are taken with. Whether or not working abroad in embassies, flying a airplane or serving as an lawyer, the navy has many schooling and profession alternatives out there.”
First-time navy mentor to the USSYP, Air Power Maj. Scott Hollister, who serves because the assistant director of operations inside america Air Power Reserve at Schriever Area Power Base in Colorado, stated he was instantly taken with volunteering.
“I’ve served within the Air Power for practically 20 years and have shortly realized our best property are our folks,” he stated. “I’ve turn into keen about rising those that care and are taken with making a optimistic influence [on] the setting round them. USSYP provides me the chance to mentor one of the best property of our nation’s future — I could not cross this up.”
Hollister stated it is obvious to him why the USSYP is essential for not simply the scholars who take part, however for the nation as effectively.
“To ensure that a member of any society to actually have an effect they need to first have vested curiosity,” he stated. “This curiosity can come from many various avenues, however probably the most significant is to know one’s historical past and the ‘why’ behind our selections. I consider this program will additional permit these younger Individuals to turn into extra vested within the cloth of this nation which may result in extra considerate and significant selections sooner or later.”
Hollister stated, he additionally expects to realize one thing from his involvement.
“I do know it is going to be a rising expertise for me,” he stated. “I do know I’ll study so much from these delegates, and I think about I’ll stroll away with confidence sooner or later leaders of our nation.”
Coast Guard Cmdr. Robert Concepcion, chief of response with U.S. Coast Guard Sector Maryland-Nationwide Capital Area and Marine Corps Lt. Col. Anja Loomis, a reservist who serves with the Marine Corps’ navy manpower department, are performing this 12 months because the senior navy mentor officer and assistant senior navy mentor officer to the USSYP.
We hope that we are able to instill inside every scholar delegate, a extra profound information of all branches of our authorities, and why we want future leaders like them to look into alternatives in public service.”
Coast Guard Cmdr. Robert Concepcion, Senior Navy Mentor, U.S. Senate Youth Program
Each officers are skilled in this system. That is Concepcion’s fourth 12 months with this system and Loomis’ third.
Because the senior navy mentor, Concepcion stated he thinks the pool of navy officers chosen as mentors this 12 months are best candidates for shepherding USSYP contributors across the nation’s capital.
“This wonderful workforce of navy mentors exemplifies the best requirements of decorum and protocol, facilitates inclusive and insightful debate and dialogue among the many college students, and assists the USSYP workers with implementation of this system agenda,” he stated.
Concepcion stated he hopes the USSYP, and the interplay with navy mentors, will encourage contributors to contemplate public service.
“We hope that we are able to instill inside every scholar delegate, a extra profound information of all branches of our authorities, and why we want future leaders like them to look into alternatives in public service,” he stated.
He additionally stated he hopes scholar delegates will witness the variety in each navy service and authorities, and that this can make them higher future leaders as effectively.
“A few of our delegates could not have ever traveled outdoors of their state, could not have ever engaged with somebody serving within the navy, or anybody inside a high-level place in our authorities,” he stated. “We hope that we may also help them to realize a greater understanding of numerous views from different delegates and the high-level leaders they’ll have interaction with throughout Washington Week to assist make them higher leaders.”
Each Loomis and Concepcion say the USSYP advantages the 104 delegates and the nation.
“I hope the youth contributors will achieve the knowledge to humbly use their distinctive abilities to imagine the best obligations of compassionate public service,” Loomis stated. “And our nation advantages from having younger Individuals study extra concerning the authorities as a result of it creates a broader pool for future civic leaders.”
Concepcion stated he thinks participation within the USSYP will give delegates a special perspective of presidency than what they may have already got.
“I feel our younger Individuals will study that our authorities will not be solely targeted on division and battle like they could typically see or hear about from others,” he stated. “Each day we’ve numerous folks from completely different events and elements of the nation who’re united by a dedication to serve our nice nation.”
When the delegates see that — after assembly with leaders in Washington — Concepcion stated he believes contributors will take that again residence with them and into their very own futures, the place they are often higher outfitted to function leaders sooner or later.
“As a nation, younger Individuals studying extra about how our authorities works will assist our united nation make higher selections that have an effect on our numerous inhabitants,” he stated. “The core ideas of our American authorities are unifying, however they work higher when folks perceive and apply them, so we’ve to get extra youth concerned in studying about how authorities works”