TEA commissioner selects senior as Texas delegate to U.S. Senate youth program

Senior and Student Body President, Braydon Jones, has been selected by the Texas Education Agency Commissioner of Education to serve as one of two student delegates from Texas at the 49th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) which will be held in Washington, D.C. March 5 – 12.

Established in 1962 by U.S. Senate Resolution 324, the program was created for high school students so that they could gain an in-depth view of the Senate and the federal government overall as well as a deeper understanding of the interrelationship of the legislative, judicial and executive branches. The USSYP allows for a unique educational experience for outstanding high school students interested in pursuing careers in public service.

Delegates will have the opportunity to experience their national government in action by meeting and learning from the highest level of elected and appointed officials in Washington. They will hear major policy addresses from Senators, cabinet members, officials from the Department 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.

“When Texas High School won the Student Council State Presidency, we were given a list of learning experiences that we could participate in and one of those was Washington Week,” Jones said. “Honestly, I didn’t think about it because there was so many other things on the list, but when I found out that I was chosen as one of two out of all the junior and senior level student leaders in the state of Texas, words just can’t describe how I felt.”

Jones looks forward to the new opportunities this experience will bring.

“I am very passionate about service to community and this opportunity is going to allow me to see what I can possibly be doing for the rest of my life in terms of public service,” Jones said. “What I look forward to the most is the chance to have a hands-on experience with the traditions that our country was built upon. It is not every day that you get to talk with your state senator on a national level or work with a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.”

Selected delegates must hold student body office or another elected or appointed position in their communities and show academic interest and aptitude in government, history and politics. The chief state school officer in each state makes the final selection of two delegates and two alternates. The program is merit-based and highly competitive and the chosen delegates are consistently of the highest caliber in the nation. Jones was selected solely on his outstanding abilities and demonstrated qualities of leadership in an elected or appointed high school student office for the 2010-11 school year.

“This is just a stepping stone for what I hope to do in my future,” Jones said. “My goal, in the end, is to not only make TISD proud but Texarkana proud. Whether I am an attorney or a city council member, my time in Washington will enable me to learn more and to give back to my community.”

Principal Paul Norton said that Jones makes Texas High and TISD proud.

“He is a fine young man that has been a strong student leader on our campus for the past four years,” Norton said. Braydon is full of expectations, but ones that I have no doubt that he will accomplish both professionally and personally. He is a good person, good student and this experience will serve him well for his future endeavors.”

Honorary Co-Chairs for the 2011 United States Senate Youth Program are Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Senator Harry Reid and Senator Mitch McConnell.

The 104 student delegates also receive $5,000 undergraduate college scholarship to the college or university of their choice with encouragement to continue coursework in government and history. The Hearst Foundation has fully funded the USSYP since its inception, including transportation, accommodations, meals and individual college scholarships – no government funds are ever utilized.

The USSP alumni now number over 4,600. Among the many distinguished alumni of the program are Senator Susan Collins, the first delegate to become a U.S. Senator; Chief Judge Robert Henry, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit; former Ambassador to West Germany Richard Burt and former Presidential Advisors Thomas “Mack” McLarty and Karl Rove. Other alumni are former Lt. Governor of Idaho David LeRoy, former President of the Progressive Policy Institute Robert Shapiro, military officers, members of state legislatures, Foreign Service officers, top congressional staff, healthcare providers and university educators.