Procopio wins Senate Youth scholarship, visits DC politicians

Darla Shaler, Staff Writer

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A BRHS student was chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime experience to attend a week with the country’s best politicians in Washington D.C.

EBR Student of the Year Sarah Procopio was selected to be in the United States Senate Youth Program, receiving a $10,000 scholarship and a trip to Washington D.C. along with 103 other students chosen from across the country.

Two students were awarded the scholarship from each state to represent their state at the nation’s capital, mimicking the way Senators are chosen in Congress.

Procopio learned about the scholarship from the BRHS senior guidance counselor Sean Borders.

To be eligible for the award, junior and senior students had to show outstanding leadership qualities in an elected or appointed role at their school. Procopio also had to submit a portfolio and prove her knowledge of U.S. politics by taking a timed essay. After being selected as a finalist, Procopio then had to take a written test and undergo an interview process for the award.

Fittingly called “Washington Week,” the trip lasted eight days, from March 4 to March 11, and was sponsored by the Hearst Foundation. The recipients stayed in the Mayflower Hotel and enjoyed listening to a speaker at each meal, such as the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S.

Procopio had the opportunity to meet many federal officials including President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Chief Justice John Roberts.

When the delegates met Trump, they were lined on risers in the East Wing of the White House. They briefly listened to Trump congratulate them, and several students shook his hand.

“The first thing I noticed was that Trump was just as expressive with his hands in person as he is portrayed in the media,” Procopio said. She had the chance to shake hands with Vice President Pence.

She enjoyed the opportunity to eat lunch with Secretary of State Tillerson in the Ben Franklin room of the State Department and asked Chief Justice Roberts a question at the Supreme Court.

Procopio also visited Mt. Vernon, the Cincinnati Society in the Anderson House, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

She got the chance to eat dinner with Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota in the National Archives, where she sat 20 feet away from the original U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights.

“Throughout the conference, everyone was willing to have open, honest political conversations with each other, regardless of partisanship. That’s very hard to find at home. Everyone at the conference was as enthusiastic about politics as I was,” said Procopio.

Procopio made numerous new friends with the other student delegates at the conference. She still has contact with most of the other students through a group message on social media.

“I’ll never get that experience again at this age. It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment that I will never be able to forget,” she said.

Procopio will be attending LSU Honors College after she graduates high school this year and plans on going into political communication.

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