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Mississippi Students Selected for U.S. Senate Youth Program Students Headed to Washington, D. C., Receive $10,000 Scholarship


For Immediate Release: January 9, 2020  

JACKSON, Miss. – The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) announces that high school students Bobby Frank Current of Olive Branch and John Alexander Stradinger of Ridgeland will join Senator Roger F. Wicker and Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith in representing Mississippi in the nation’s capital during the 58th annual USSYP Washington Week, to be held March 7 — 14, 2020. Current and Stradinger were selected from among the state’s top student leaders to be part of the 104 national student delegation who will also each receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study.

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. The overall mission of the program is to help instill within each class of USSYP student delegates a 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.

Current, a senior at Lewisburg High School, serves as a representative to the Student Council, and the president of the Creative Writing Club, Debate Club, and Equality Club. Additionally, he serves as Boys State governor. The goal of the Equality Club is to spread awareness about different issues that challenge the community and find solutions to the problems. He is an active member of the National Honor Society and the National English Honor Society, which promotes literacy throughout the community. In the future, Current plans to attend college and pursue a career in law and politics.

Stradinger, a senior at Jackson Preparatory School, serves as president of the Student Council, and as the youth governor for the Mississippi Youth Legislature. As governor, he learned parliamentary procedures and the ability to personally relate to delegates and their ideas. He is the founder/producer of WHY Mississippi, a research project aimed at spreading awareness and appreciation for Mississippi's rich culture and the people behind it. Stradinger is a member of the prestigious Cum Laude Society. He is on the cross country, track, tennis and soccer teams. Alex plans to study political science, law and accounting.

Chosen as alternates to the 2020 program were Shawn Christian Andrew, a resident of Southaven, who attends Southaven High School and Kenning Elise Bridges, a resident of Florence, who attends McLaurin High School.

Delegates and alternates are selected by the state departments of education nationwide and the District of Columbia and Department of Defense Education Activity, after nomination by teachers and principals. The chief state school officer for each jurisdiction confirms the final selection. This year’s Mississippi delegates and alternates were designated by Carey Wright, state superintendent of education.

While in Washington the student delegates attend meetings and briefings with senators, members of the House of Representatives, Congressional staff, the president, a justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies, an ambassador to the United States and senior members of the national media. In addition to outstanding leadership abilities and a strong commitment to volunteer work, the student delegates rank academically in the top one percent of their states among high school juniors and seniors.

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. Originally proposed by Senators Kuchel, Mansfield, Dirksen and Humphrey, 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."

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Media Contact: 

Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
Director of Communications

Jean Cook, APR
Director of Public Relations