This year, M-A senior and editor-and-chief of the M-A Chronicle, Sathvik Nori was one of two high-school students from California chosen to represent the state in the United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) from March 14 – 18, 2021. The program, a week-long traineeship and scholarship sponsored by the United States Senate, is meant to “fuel and sustain the delegates’ commitment to making a difference in their schools, their communities, and their country.” In the USSYP, members learn about the federal government’s inner workings through meetings with senators, the president, Supreme Court justices, and more.
Even though Nori felt disappointed he could not attend the program in person in Washington D.C., he said the “online Washington Week the Hearst Foundation put together was such a solid, immersive program that I felt like I was with my fellow delegates the whole time.”
During the program, Nori met leaders like Dr. Anthony Fauci, Justice Clarence Thomas, Astronaut Scott Kelly, and Senators Tammy Baldwin and James Lankford. He said, “I have always been inspired by Clarence Thomas’ story of rising up from poverty, and it was amazing to hear him speak about the functioning of the American judiciary system.” Nori also had the opportunity to ask Thomas about his stance against Tinker vs. Des Moines 1969, a case that cemented first amendment rights in public schools, until it was reversed by Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier 1988. “I will never forget when he chuckled, reminiscing on his own days as a high school journalist,” he said. “Thomas’ response helped me understand his position on the issue and offered me a greater knowledge of legality. None of these court cases are black and white.”
Nori said he appreciated learning all the “cool and relatively unknown stuff the government did.” He said, “It was interesting to hear the US ambassador to Brazil discuss different approaches to foreign relations and his advocacy of soft power. Foreign policy is something that often goes ignored.”
Aside from meeting federal and local government leaders, Nori also met with California’s first Latino Senator, Alex Padilla. “I especially liked the bipartisan approach to public service, which you often do not see in politics,” he explained, “and it was insightful to hear him discuss the need to eliminate the filibuster given his first-hand experience and that I have frequently debated this topic.”
Nori said that experiencing the program with 103 other student delegates from each state was another memorable part of his time in the USSYP. While everyone shared different opinions, he said, “we were able to engage in productive dialogue that furthered the idea of an informed citizenry our founding fathers valued so greatly in this democracy.”
Nori said, “Ultimately, USSYP instilled me with a deep respect for the public servants who dedicate their career to the effective governance of the United States. I hope to follow in the footsteps of leaders like Dr. Anthony Fauci, Captain Scott Kelly, Norah O’Donnell, and many others in making a long-lasting impact on our great country.”