Lincoln High student represents Nebraska in U.S. Senate Youth Program
Lincoln High senior Kristie Trinh had the experience of a lifetime after she was selected to participate in the United States Senate Youth Program.
The program, created by the U.S. Senate in 1962, was designed "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."
Trinh was one of two students from Nebraska selected for this honor. Along with a week-long trip to Washington D.C. in March to meet with government officials, participants are also awarded a $10,000 scholarship, courtesy of the Hearst Foundation.
Trinh said she found out about the program through EducationQuest, and after a rigorous application process of both essays and in-person interview, she got the email saying she’d been selected to be one of the 104 student delegates for this year’s program.
“I was just shocked," Trinh said. “I was really excited, too, because the only other time I’ve been to Washington D.C. was when I was really young and didn’t understand the government aspect of things. Now, I’m increasingly interested in political science and government.”
Trinh, who serves as president of the Lincoln High National Honor Society, will graduate with an International Baccalaureate diploma and plans to attend the University of Michigan to receive a dual degree in both architecture and engineering. She says her time in Washington D.C. helped cultivate her passion surrounding public policy and change in those two areas.
“To be surrounded by so many people who shared this passion was so incredibly motivating,” Trinh explained. “We spoke with Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, and he talked about increasing representation in education. And that was something that I'm particularly interested in within architecture and engineering - I just really want to increase representation within those areas.”
Phone use was limited in many of the places students visited, so they received a journal to document their experience - a journal Trinh flipped through fervently as she recounted the many once in a lifetime opportunities she had during her time in Washington D.C. Students had the opportunity to meet with both elected and appointed government officials, including senators Fischer and Ricketts for Nebraska students, Secretary of Education Cardona, and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
“We got an exclusive look at D.C.,” Trinh said. “There was a day we went to the Supreme Court, and it was really interesting to be in the room where all these historical decisions were made, I was just sitting there and reflecting. It was amazing.”
Students were also put into small groups and assigned a military mentor, who gave them a deeper understanding of the workings of the U.S. military and its role in government.
“That was really interesting because I don't really interact with anyone from the military on a day to day basis,” Trinh said. “So it was really nice and refreshing to hear a personal experience of it.”
In addition to all the historical sightseeing and meetings with the nation’s top officials, students also networked amongst themselves, making lasting connections and friendships.
“I've just exponentially been motivated,” Trinh said. “They were accomplishing things that I just didn't even know people our age could accomplish. So I think just overall, I've been keeping up a lot of the connections with these people, and that has been really amazing for not just networking, but it’s also just incredibly motivating.”
For Trinh, being accepted into this program holds more than just an unforgettable trip to the nation’s capital. The scholarship students received will go a long way for her as a first generation college student.
“It’s really nice because it's less of a burden on my parents now,” Trinh said. “It also increases accessibility of education for immigrants and people who don't necessarily have a legacy or have parents who are experienced in the area of applying to college.”
To learn more about the United States Senate Youth Program, the qualifications, and how to apply, visit https://ussenateyouth.org/
Check out more photos from Kristie Trinh’s experience in Washington D.C. here:
Published: May 5, 2023, Updated: May 5, 2023