The Vermont Principals' Association has announced that Brattleboro Union High School senior Eva Gould is one of two students in the state named a 2024 United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) delegate.
Annually, two students from each state are selected for a $10,000 cash scholarship and an all-expenses-paid, week-long trip to Washington D.C. This year's selected student delegates to represent Vermont are Gould and Chris Alfano, a senior at Burr & Burton Academy in Manchester.
A Vermont Principals' Association press release calls both students "very impressive Vermont high school students."
"They submitted incredible application packets, have lots of evidence of great school and community leadership, and had very impressive interviews with the VPA USSYP committee that makes the final selections," says the release.
The United States Senate Youth Program, established in 1962 by Senate resolution, is a unique educational experience for outstanding high school students interested in pursuing careers in public service.
Its 62nd annual Washington Week is scheduled to be held in person in Washington, D.C. March 2–9, 2024.
The two student leaders from each state, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (which operates a school system for children of U.S. military families around the world) will spend the week experiencing their national government in action. Students must be actively serving in high-level elected or appointed leadership positions to qualify to apply.
Student delegates 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 usually participate in meetings with the President and a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
All transportation, hotel, and meal expenses will be provided by The Hearst Foundations.
In addition, each delegate will also be awarded a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate studies with encouragement to pursue coursework in history and political science.
Gould appreciates every opportunity
"I love being involved in my school," Gould says. "I truly want the best for Brattleboro and its schools. I feel the impact you have on your community is so important, and I hold that close to me."
Gould plays two varsity sports in addition to filling her academic schedule and working as much as she can throughout the year.
She is a member of Student Council and the National Honor Society. She played a major role on the recent committee to rename the school mascot and has been a student representative to the BUHS School Board.
Gould says her biggest accomplishment to date is founding the PeaceJam chapter at the high school.
The international organization was developed by Nobel Peace Prize laureates as a vehicle to teach peacemaking to young people. The BUHS chapter members are among the 1.3 million youth in 40 countries participating in the program.
"Last year, our bike drive was monumental," she says. "It was so wonderful to even the playing field by bringing transportation to people who need it while positively impacting the Earth."
The organization, she says, "has brought a great community to our school and connected us town-wide. The engagement is something you don't see everywhere."
"We had Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, speak a couple years ago and [we] now host monthly speakers for the school," Gould says. "PeaceJam has a whole curriculum focused on Nobel Peace Prize laureates and international leaders that we work through while also planning our Billion Acts of Peace sub-projects."
The latter is PeaceJam's goal of documenting one billion individual actions and programs "to change the world." According to the project's website, more than 110 million acts of peace in 171 countries have been recorded.
Gould's family owns and operates Lilac Ridge Farm in West Brattleboro, which she says "has been a big inspiration."
"I have a big family that I love so much […]. I love how passionate my family is about caring for animals, producing healthy food, conserving the land, and recently making the most delicious creemies," Gould says.
"Growing up on Lilac Ridge is something I wouldn't change for the world," she adds.
The senior says placing in the top six Vermont students in the U.S. Senate Youth program is "an absolute honor," especially given the "intensive selection process."
"The final six then go through an interview in front of seven VPA members, from which the final two are chosen," Gould says.
"I was the last interview of the day in Montpelier. With some bad car luck, I ended up having to spend the day up north waiting for AAA to come," she adds. "When I found out, I was so thrilled and I couldn't quite process the news."
She recalls that when she learned the news, she "was eating pizza with my Dad so it was a fun moment to share together."
"The opportunity this presents is so great, and I could not be happier. To meet and be able to chat with our country's leaders is amazing," Gould says.
"I can't wait to see in-depth how our country is run from within the Capitol," she adds. "I also am so excited to meet the other outstanding students from across the nation. It will be so interesting to learn everyone's roots, interests, and accomplishments."
She predicts that it will be "a great group."
"I am most excited for the judicial branch as I have a strong interest in law and justice. I also am fascinated by history, politics, culture, and business," says Gould, who recently applied "to a bunch of universities" and hopes to major in business and/or political science.
"I am very excited to be part of and encourage women in leadership," she says.
This News item by Virginia Ray was written for The Commons.