senate program

The United States Senate Youth Program recently announced the 104 high school students who will be delegates at the program’s 57th annual Washington Week this month. At least eight of the 2019 delegates are Indian American and South Asian students. Seen here is the 2018 class. (ussenateyouth.org photo)

The United States Senate Youth Program Jan. 16 announced the high school students across the country who will head to Washington, D.C., this month for the program’s 57th annual Washington Week.

Two students from each state, as well as the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity, were named as delegates, with several Indian American and South Asian American high schoolers among them.

Rohan Ian Shah was among the Virginia-based delegates. Shah, a senior at George C. Marshall High School, serves as a senior class student government officer. He plans to attend college to study political science with aspirations to one day run for higher office. Rohan believes his favorite quote, “leaders don’t create followers, they create other leaders” will support him to empower his generation to take ownership of the future, and leave a lasting, positive impact on our country. He has had the opportunity to experience firsthand the struggles of others which has motivated him to study and work harder to fulfill the promise of the American Dream.

In Ohio, Navkiran Kaur Chima was named a delegate. Chima, a senior at Streetsboro High School, serves as the senior class president. She is involved in many clubs such as National Honor Society, the Student Leadership Team, and International Culture Club. She has also earned several academic awards. Navkiran is a scholar-athlete in volleyball, basketball, and track. She is active in her community and volunteers at her local Community Christmas and youth girls' sports camps. Navkiran plans on a career in international relations and law or chemistry.

Preeti Chemiti was named a delegate in North Dakota. Chemiti, a senior at West Fargo Sheyenne High School, serves as the president of the senior class. She is recognized as the top-ranked speaker in North Dakota by the National Speech and Debate Association, is a three-time national qualifier, and holds multiple state championships in Speech, Debate, and Student Congress. Additionally, she is a varsity tennis athlete, and the North Dakota HOSA state president, an organization for future health professionals. She is a board member of the North Dakota superintendent's Student Cabinet, and the founder of a mental health organization. Last summer, she attended Girls State and Girls Nation, where she held multiple leadership positions. Her future plans are to study law.

Sahith Kaki was named a delegate out of New Hampshire. Kaki, a senior at Nashua High School South, serves as the vice president of the New Hampshire Technology Student Association and has been a member of the Nashua High School South Student Senate. He is passionate about his community and volunteers for several groups including the Southern New Hampshire Medical Center, Shishu Bharati, and VTSeva. Through his service, he has earned the Gold President's Volunteer Service Award on three occasions. Along with volunteering in his community, Kaki enjoys playing tennis, reading the news, and tutoring students. He is hoping to pursue a double major in biomedical engineering and economics in college.

In Indiana, Ishaan Khelan Modi was named a delegate. Modi, a senior at Hamilton Southeastern High School, serves as the Student Council vice president and also serves as a board member and outreach coordinator for the Hamilton Southeastern Schools Foundation. He is also is the Hamilton Southeastern Democrats vice chair, and is an active varsity member of the Speech and Debate team.

Among the Arizona delegates was Abhinav Sai Kolli. Kolli, a junior at Basis Chandler High School, serves as the president of the Student Board, founded and manages the Business and Investment Club, and has worked as an intern for Senator Jeff Flake. He stood out as a hard worker and demonstrated the ability to understand the needs of the office and showed initiative to fulfill those needs. His skill at interaction with constituents and staff was effective and professional.

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 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. In addition to the program week, The Hearst Foundations provide each student with a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs. Transportation and all expenses for Washington Week are also provided by The Hearst Foundations; as stipulated in S.Res.324, no government funds are utilized.

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