Anjali Fernandes, a senior at Pattonville High School, was selected as one of two delegates in Missouri to attend the 51st annual United States Senate Youth Program in Washington, D.C. in March. Only two representatives from each state are chosen for this unique educational opportunity.
Fernandes was selected for the honor after being named a semifinalist based on nomination forms, student essays and letters of recommendation. She also traveled to Jefferson City to take part in an extensive interview that was part of the final selection process. She was chosen from among eight state finalists. A panel consisting of staff from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and The Missouri Bar selected the delegates. Nearly 80 juniors or seniors were nominated for the program this year by high school principals from public and nonpublic schools.
The United States Senate Youth Program is a unique educational experience for outstanding high school students interested in pursuing careers in public service. Fernandes will spend a week in Washington experiencing the federal government in action. During the week, she will hear major policy addresses by senators, cabinet members, officials from the Departments of State and Defense and directors of other federal agencies, as well as participate in a meeting with a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. All transportation, hotel and meal expenses are provided by The Hearst Foundations. In addition, Fernandes is being awarded a $5,000 college scholarship for undergraduate studies, with encouragement to pursue coursework in history and political science.
Fernandes already has some experience with the political and legislative processes. Last summer, she was elected vice president of Girls Nation, an immersive program in Washington, D.C., that gives high school girls firsthand experience and practical insight into how the federal government works. Two participants per state, known as “Senators,” were chosen to represent their respective Girls State programs. They spent the week creating a mock legislature, submitting bills and resolutions, participating in Senate sessions, holding a national convention, electing officials such as president and vice president and visiting significant locations around Washington, including a day on Capitol Hill meeting with state senators and representatives. They also met President Barack Obama.
Fernandes was elected to the national position after also being elected president of Missouri Girls State this summer. The program, held annually at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, is a simulated state, sponsored, organized and administered by the American Legion Auxiliary, Department of Missouri. This was the first time a single student won both the Missouri Girls State governorship and a seat at Girls Nation in the same year.