From February 9-12, seventeen Emmanuel students went to Washington, D.C. for a conference with Youth in Government. I was lucky enough to be one of them, so read on if you’d like to hear about my experience!
On Thursday, February 9, the students began their trek to Washington, D.C. to participate in Campus YMCA Congress’ National Assembly. I went down a day early to help set up because I had the privilege of serving as a national officer from the 2016 conference through the 2017 conference. I excitedly greeted my delegation, got them all checked in, and the whirlwind began! We each attended an opening session for the area we’d be involved in during this model government conference. I was in the Cabinet, and we had 9 students in the House of Representatives, 4 in the Senate, and 3 in the press. After that session, we ate dinner at the Union Station food court with everyone from the other schools. From there, we went to the Hart Senate Building on Capitol Hill to inaugurate our President and have a celebration.
Friday morning, we were back at Capitol Hill bright and early. Students gathered in committees to present bills they had authored. The conference gives everyone the opportunity to raise their voice on issues they’re passionate about. Having the opportunity to simulate the legislative process in the actual spaces that our elected officials use was an experience I will never forget. After a great day on the Hill, The George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management hosted a reception for conference delegates. We had the opportunity to socialize, network, and learn about some options for graduate studies in politics.
On Saturday and Sunday, sessions were held for the Senate and House of Representatives to debate all of the bills that committees had approved. At this point, the Cabinet began to go more in depth to a part of the conference that was introduced on Friday, a crisis simulation. This was definitely one of the highlights of the conference for me. This year’s crisis was based on an attack on the United States, where a country who had strains of smallpox reintroduced it in the U.S. after we had successfully eradicated it decades ago. I was the Secretary of Health and Human Services this year, so I played a significant role in this eye-opening experience. It was fascinating to see how much would have to go in to dealing with such an emergency.
At the closing session on Sunday, Emmanuel did very well. Two of our students, Julie and Carina, were awarded runner-up for Outstanding House of Representatives Legislation. One of our students, Lily, was awarded Outstanding Senate Legislation. Bills written by Lily and Faarooq were both signed into law, which is not an easy feat. We were recognized as a 2017 Chapter of Distinction for our outstanding performance at the conference as well as on campus throughout the year. I was so proud of how well everyone from Emmanuel performed at the conference, and I feel extremely honored to be the president of Emmanuel College Youth in Government. I am also incredibly grateful to the Emmanuel community for always supporting us and helping us to be so successful. This conference provided us with knowledge and skills, the opportunity to see D.C. sights, and friends from across the country. I know I will cherish this experience forever.