Mississippi students selected for U.S. Senate Youth Program
By Brittany Land
Ruben Banks, of Jackson, and Kennedy Guest, of Brandon, were selected from among the state’s top student leaders to be part of the 2019 United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP).
Banks, a Jim Hill High School senior, and Guest, a Brandon High School senior, are part of a national delegation of 104 students who will each receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study.
The students will join Senator Roger Wicker and Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith in representing Mississippi in the nation’s capital during the 57th annual USSYP Washington Week, to be held March 2nd-9th, 2019.
Banks serves as the Student Government Association president, and past governor of Magnolia State Mississippi Boys State 2018. He is the Jackson Public School’s Brigade Commander and has recently been awarded the Legion of Valor. He has also served for the past four years as a member of the United States Air Force Auxiliary Civil Air Patrol, and a member of FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council. Banks is the president of the Jackson Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Inc., Kappa League, and has been selected as an amazing teen by the Jackson Free Press for Mississippi.
Guest serves as his school’s Student Body president. He is a member of the City of Brandon’s Mayor’s Youth Council, was one of Mississippi’s two delegates to the Hugh O’Brian World Leadership Congress and attended the Trent Lott Leadership Institute. Guest is a National Merit Scholar and has attended Boys State where he served as attorney general. After obtaining an engineering degree from Mississippi State University, Guest would like to attend law school and pursue a career in public service.
Chosen as alternates to the 2019 program were Evan Pike McCutchen, a resident of Pontotoc, who attends Pontotoc High School and Grace Olivia Weatherly, a resident of Gulfport, who attends Gulfport High School.
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.”
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 within each class of USSYP student delegates more profound knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service.
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.
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. The students will also tour many of the national monuments and several museums.