Illinois Students Selected for U.S. Senate Youth Program

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Delegates to travel to D.C. and receive $5,000 scholarship


Springfield, IL – The Illinois State Board of Education joins U.S. Senators Richard J. Durbin and Mark Kirk in congratulating the two Illinois high school students selected as delegates to the 49th annual U.S. Senate Youth Program in Washington, D.C. in March. James Konsky of Troy and William Fernandez of Champaign were selected from applicants across the state to represent Illinois.

“It is a great accomplishment for these two students and an amazing opportunity to experience the democratic process up close in our nation’s capitol,” said Christopher A. Koch, State Superintendent of Education. “We congratulate our two delegates for Illinois, their teachers and their families.”

The U.S. Senate sponsors the USSYP, created in 1962, and The Hearst Foundations currently funds the program. The program aims to instill a more profound knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service.

Each year the competitive, merit-based program brings 104 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. The Hearst Foundations provide each of the 104 student delegates with a $5,000 undergraduate college scholarship and encourages them to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs.

While in Washington March 5-12, 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 members of the national media.

William Fernandez is student body president at University Laboratory High School, where he also participates in basketball and track. He was selected as one of the top 10 high school journalists in Illinois and he helped his school paper win the National Student Press Association’s Pacemaker Award.

William tutors and coaches elementary students and also volunteers for Sail to Prevail, a New England-based program that helps people with disabilities learn to sail.

James Konsky serves as a Knights Council representative at Triad High School and as a Junior Board member of the U.S. Senator Paul Simon Museum. James’ love for politics began when he learned about Sen. Simon’s life. He continues to enjoy politics through his Model UN activities.

Anastasia Golovashkina, a resident of Naperville who attends Naperville North High School, and Nora Castrejon, a resident of Chicago, who attends Benito Juarez Community Academy, were chosen as alternates for the 2011 program.

Chief education officers in each state select the delegates after nomination by teachers and principals. In addition to outstanding leadership abilities and a strong commitment to public service, this year’s students rank academically in the top 1 percent of their states.

Among the many distinguished former program delegates are U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the first program delegate elected to the Senate; U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner of Colorado, the first former delegate elected to the House; New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie; former Chief Judge Robert Henry, U.S. Court of Appeals; former Ambassador to West Germany Richard Burt; and former presidential Advisers Thomas “Mack” McLarty and Karl Rove.


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