TOPEKA — Two Kansas students have been selected as delegates to the 60th annual United States Senate Youth Program that will take place virtually March 6-9, 2022.
Gerrit Dangermound, a junior at Oskaloosa High School, Oskaloosa Unified School District 341, and William Rues, a senior at La Crosse High School, La Crosse USD 395, were selected to join the 104-student delegation that will virtually attend Washington Week. They each will receive a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs.
Dangermound serves as vice president of his junior class at Oskaloosa High. He is active in school and community activities and enjoys spending his free time getting to know his peers and working at the local food bank.
Dangermound plans to teach high school social science after graduating from college.
Rues serves as president of the National Honor Society at La Crosse High. He also has served in many leadership positions at his school and competes in cross country and track. Rues recently had the opportunity to be a Boys State delegate and served in its Senate.
Rues plans to attend The University of Kansas (KU) on an Air Force ROTC scholarship and major in history. After he serves in the Air Force, Rues plans to return to college to obtain a doctorate in European history.
Chosen as alternates to the 2022 program were Kevinh Nguyen, who lives in Topeka and attends Seaman High School, Seaman USD 345, and Andrew Phalen, who lives in Lawrence and attends Lawrence High School, Lawrence USD 497.
Delegates and alternates are selected by state departments of education, after nomination by teachers and principals. The Chief State School Officer or Commissioner of Education for each jurisdiction confirms the final selection.
In Kansas, applicants have to pass a multiple-choice exam based on state and national government and write an essay. This year, the Kansas State Department of Education received 45 applications. The exams and essays are graded, and the top four applicants are selected. Delegates and alternates are authorized by Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson.
In years past, the competitive merit-based program would send the 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 weeklong study of the federal government and the people who lead it. However, because of the pandemic, student delegates this year will attend online meetings and briefings with senators, the president, a justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies and others.
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. 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."
The overall mission of the program is to help instill within each class of USSYP student delegates more knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service. The Hearst Foundations provide each student with a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship.
In addition to outstanding leadership abilities and a strong commitment to volunteer work, the student delegates rank academically in the top 1% 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.
For questions about delegates, alternates or the selection process, contact Tamla Miller, Kansas Senate Youth coordinator at the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE), at [email protected] or (785) 296-4950.
For more information on USSYP, visit www.ussenateyouth.org.