- February 25, 2021
CARSON CITY, Nev. – Two Nevada students have been selected to join Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto and Senator Jacky Rosen in Washington, D.C. at the 59th Annual U.S. Senate Youth Program (USSYP) Washington Week, taking place virtually on March 14-18, 2021.
Joanna Bieda, a senior at Advanced Technologies Academy in Las Vegas, and Alexander Wong, a senior at West Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas, were chosen from among Nevada’s extraordinary student leaders to participate in the USSYP. Joanna and Alex will also each receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study.
“We can all be proud to have such exceptional scholars and student leaders representing us on the national stage,” said Jhone Ebert, Superintendent of Public Instruction. “I would like to recognize Joanna and Alex for their many accomplishments, which demonstrate their commitment to their schools and communities. I know they will benefit from this one-of-a-kind learning opportunity and hope their passion for service continues to flourish in their future endeavors.”
Joanna Bieda, a senior at the Advanced Technologies Academy, is a youth legislator and has served as chair for the Nevada Youth Legislature. As a youth legislator for Senate District 5, she represents 42,000 youths. She is the chair of the Nevada High School Democrats, and worked with local campaigns to offer policy research and volunteering opportunities to teenagers, as well as recruit students to work the polls on Election Day. Joanna is also a lead youth attorney for the Trial By Peers youth diversion program, advocating on behalf of juvenile offenders. Additionally, she founded Mission for American Resolve, a student-run think tank with the aim of discussing political intricacies in America and abroad in fact-driven, research-based works. Joanna has held leadership positions in Speech and Debate, Future Business Leaders of America, the International Business Internship Program, and Academic World Quest.
Alexander Wong, a senior at West Career and Technical Academy, serves on the Nevada Youth Legislature representing Senate District 8 as a legislator (2019-21) and vice chairman (2019-20), where his passion for public service flourished. He is the founder and president of his school’s Speech and Debate Club and is Nevada’s top-ranked Lincoln-Douglas debater. He established a nonprofit, Vegas Debate Institute, providing debate resources to students and is an officer of his school’s DECA Club and National Business Honor Society. He authored an Op-Ed in the Las Vegas Sun on the pandemic’s impact on education for which he received a Scholastic Art and Writing award, and has moderated a Nevada Youth Roundtable with Senator Jacky Rosen focusing on the challenges young people faced during the global health crisis. Alex is an AP Scholar of Distinction and plans to study public policy and political science in college.
Alex Gallegos, who attends Eldorado High School in Las Vegas and serves as the student Member of the State Board of Education, and Sabrina Richards, who attends Faith Lutheran Middle and High School in Las Vegas, were chosen as alternates to the 2021 program.
Delegates and alternates are selected by state education agencies nationwide after nomination by teachers and principals. The chief state school officer for each jurisdiction confirms the final selection.
About the USSYP
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. This year, the program will be held online. During the program week, the student delegates will attend online meetings and briefings with senators, the president, a justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies, and senior members of the national media, among others. 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.
For more information, visit: www.ussenateyouth.org