By Richard Ritter, Vilseck High SchoolJanuary 6, 2014
VILSECK, Germany -- Phillip Ramirez has been selected as one of two Department of Defense Education Activity students who will be participating in the United States Senate Youth Program this year.
Established in 1962, the United States Senate Youth Program is a highly competitive, prestigious program that offers a unique educational experience for outstanding high school students interested in pursuing careers in public service.
Two students from each state, the District of Columbia and the DODEA will spend a week in Washington experiencing their national government in action.
The 104 student delegates will hear major policy addresses by senators, cabinet members, officials from the Departments of State and Defense, directors of other federal agencies, as well as participate in a meeting with a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
This year's program will be held in Washington, D.C., from March 8-15. All transportation, hotel and meal expenses will be provided by The Hearst Foundations.
In addition, each delegate will also be awarded a $5,000 college scholarship for undergraduate studies, with encouragement to pursue coursework in history and political science.
Ramirez said he is excited about participating in the program.
"I've always been interested in the U.S. political system, and to have the opportunity to meet with our country's leaders and see behind-the-scenes action in Washington is overwhelming," he said. "I can't wait to be able to go and enjoy the amazing experience. And, of course, the $5,000 scholarship is nice, too."
Ramirez has a wealth of senate experience, thanks to his participation in the European Model U.S. Senate Program, in which high school students represent a U.S. senator in a simulation of the Senate legislative process.
Students research a wide variety of contemporary legislative issues and prepare bills for discussion and debate in caucuses, lobbying meetings, committee hearings and, finally, before the entire Model U.S. Senate in its plenary sessions.
For the past two years, Ramirez has served on the Student Board of Directors for this program.
Timothy Connolly, a history teacher at VHS, recommended Ramirez for the United States Senate Youth Program.
"He's friendly, hard working, academic, cares about others … he's the total package. If he has any weaknesses, I'm not aware of them," Connolly said. "I hope that someday I can vote for him for public office."
Ramirez seemed collected as he talked about his plans for the trip. When asked about the key to reaching a compromise, he didn't hesitate.
"You really have to understand where each person is coming from," Ramirez said.
Editor's Note: Richard Ritter teaches Advanced Placement Government at Vilseck High School. Jeremy S. Buddemeier, U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria Public Affairs, contributed reporting.