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ASHLAND – The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) announces that Alexandra Michelle Tokar from Ashland High will join Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Edward J. Markey in representing Massachusetts during the 61st annual USSYP Washington Week, to be held March 4-11, 2023.

The other Massachusetts student selected was Jimmy Merino, from Chelsea High.

Each of 104 student leaders will receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study.

Created by Senate Resolution 324 in 1962, the program been sponsored by the Senate and fully funded by The Hearst Foundations since inception.

Originally proposed by Senators Kuchel, Mansfield, Dirksen and Humphrey, the Senate leadership of the day, 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.”

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Each year this extremely competitive merit-based program provides the most outstanding high school students – two from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity – with 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.

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. All expenses for Washington Week are also provided by The Hearst Foundations; as stipulated in S.Res.324, no government funds are utilized.

Tokar, a senior at Ashland High School, serves as vice president of the Senior Class. She is also the president and founder of Ashland Against Violence club, serves on state Senator Karen Spilka’s Youth Advisory Council, interns at a law office, and serves on the Teen Advisory Board Hopkinton Center for the Arts.

She also volunteers at the Ashland Farmers Market, with the organization Home2Homes helping the homeless and fundraises for Make A Wish.

She has committed 14 years to dance training to become a pre-professional dancer.

She intends to major in international relations, focusing in politics, human rights, and gender studies. She also plans to attend law school to work in international prosecution of gender-based violence and human rights violations.

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Merino, a junior at Chelsea High School, serves as the president of the Junior Class. He has demonstrated his passion to pursue a political science major through his extracurricular activities, including interning at an immigration law firm, and working at the campaign for Judith Garcia for state representative, where he served as the field organizing director and is currently working as a research intern.

For the past three years Merino has also been a part of the organization La Colaborativa in his hometown to empower immigrants and youth to enhance the social and economic health of the community.

In the future, he would like to intern for a professor conducting research on policy impacting education inequity. He plans to become a civil litigation attorney.

Chosen as alternates to the 2023 program were Janichka J. Nordeus, a resident of Boston, who attends Fenway High School and Tasneem Y. Ghadiali, a resident of Lexington, who attends Lexington High School.

Delegates and alternates are selected by the state departments of education nationwide and the District of Columbia and Department of Defense Education Activity, after nomination by teachers and principals. The chief state school officer for each jurisdiction confirms the final selection.

This year’s Massachusetts delegates and alternates were designated by Jeffrey C. Riley, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education.

During the program week, the student delegates will attend meetings and briefings with senators, the president, a justice of the Supreme Court, and leaders of cabinet agencies, among others.

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 6,000 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 alumnus to be elected U.S. senator; Secretary of Transportation and former Mayor of South Bend Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, the first alumnus to be appointed as a cabinet secretary; former Senator 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 Governor 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. 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.

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Members of the U. S. Senate Youth Program 2023 annual Senate Advisory Committee are: Senator John Hickenlooper of Colorado, the 2023 USSYP Democratic Co-Chair and Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, the 2023 USSYP Republican Co-Chair. The full USSYP Senate Advisory Committee consists of the vice president of the United States and the Senate majority and minority leaders who annually serve as the program’s Honorary Co-Chairs; two senators, one from each party, serving as acting Co-Chairs who each have keynote speaking roles, and an eight-member bipartisan senate panel, four senators from each party, who lend their names in support. Serving on the Advisory Committee for the upcoming program are: Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Senator Jon Tester of Montana, Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Senator Bill Cassidy, MD, of Louisiana, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Senator Cynthia M. Lummis of Wyoming.

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By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.