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Two Delaware students to attend Senate Youth Program in D.C.

Delaware News Desk
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

Two Delaware high school students have been chosen to attend the United States Senate Youth Program in Washington, D.C., and will receive $10,000 scholarships.

Evan Qian Cheng, of Magnolia, and Trinity Hope-Shockley Kelso, of Millsboro, will join Sens. Thomas Carper and Christopher Coons in representing Delaware during the 58th annual USSYP Washington Week, to be held March 7 - 14. Cheng and Kelso were selected from among the state’s top student leaders to be part of the national, 104-student delegation. 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. 

Evan Cheng, a senior at Caesar Rodney High School, serves as the president of the National Honor Society. He is a captain of the varsity swim team, vice president of Chinese club and computer science club and historian of his school’s Class of 2020. He participates in debate team and has also attended the Delaware Governor’s School and Boys State. Evan enjoys volunteering at local schools, having worked during the summers with at-risk kindergartners to help them acclimate to school. He plans to follow a career in the humanities, with law being his current top career choice. 

Trinity Kelso, a junior at Sussex Technical High School, serves as the junior class president. She is a member of the National Honor Society, as well as the National Technical Honor Society, and has been on the honor roll throughout high school. Trinity participates in the Delaware Technical Community College’s Academic Challenge program. She is a member of her school’s business leadership team, participates in Business Professionals of America and serves on the district superintendent’s community advisory committee. In addition, she works two jobs and volunteers regularly. She is considering several colleges and intends to major in international business or political science. Eventually, Trinity would love to work on Capitol Hill. 

Chosen as alternates to the 2020 program were Appoquinimink High School's Shreya Nemishh Mehta, of Middletown, and Charter School of Wilmington's Kehinde Deborah Olatunji, of Wilmington.

Delegates and alternates are selected by the state departments of education nationwide, after nomination by teachers and principals. The chief state school officer for each jurisdiction confirms the final selection. This year’s Delaware delegates and alternates were designated by Susan S. Bunting, Ed.D., Secretary 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 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. The overall mission of the program is to help instill 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. Transportation and all expenses for Washington Week are also provided by The Hearst Foundations. No government funds are utilized. 

While in Washington the student delegates attend meetings and briefings with senators, members of the House of Representatives, Congressional staff, the president, a justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies, an ambassador to the United States and senior members of the national media. 

Now more than 5,700 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: Sen. Susan Collins, the first alumnus to be elected U.S. senator; Sen. 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 Gov. 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, and Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, currently a candidate for president of the United States. 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. 

For more information visit www.ussenateyouth.org.