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DoDEA Pacific Students attend United States Senate Youth Program

For Immediate Release — June 5, 2013 | Pacific
: Public Affairs Specialist | 644-5786

OKINAWA, JAPAN — June 5, 2013 — Makayla Palazzo, a senior at Kubasaki High School in Okinawa, Japan and Danari White, a junior at Seoul American High School in South Korea attended the 51st Annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) March 9 – 16 in Washington, D.C.

The DODEA Pacific students were among 104 of the most promising high school student leaders — two from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity — who received a $5,000 scholarship and participated in the intensive week-long study of the federal government and the people who lead it. The week included meetings and briefings with Senators and Congressional staff, the President, a Justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies, an Ambassador to the United States and top members of the national media. The students also toured many of the national monuments and several museums, the Pentagon and stayed at the historic Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C.

USSYP Wreath Laying 

Makayla Palazzo (left), a senior at Kubasaki High School in Okinawa, Japan and Danari White, a junior at Seoul American High School in South Korea, lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. (© Photo by Jakub Mosur/Erin Lubin). 

Makayla Palazzo, student body president at Kubasaki High School in Okinawa, Japan, progressed through the student government ranks and proved herself a capable leader as a member of the National Honor Society, Model Congress, and Far East Championship soccer team. She plans to attend Georgetown University with aspirations of an appointment to the position of Ambassador.

Danari White, a junior class representative at Seoul American High School in Seoul, South Korea, enjoys ballet and playing guitar and is a member of National Honor Society. Danari is the Director of the Economic and Social Council in Model United Nations, a Varsity All-American Cheer nominee and crowned Junior Class Homecoming Princess. She intends to earn degrees in political science and French at the University of Central Florida before earning a law degree from Emory University.

The event was labeled as “the week that changed everything” for White. She said that she is expecting more pivotal moments in the future; Washington Week is the event which she felt a stronger determination inside.

Denari White

Danari White (left), a junior at Seoul American High School in South Korea, stands with Florida Senator Marc Rubio at the White House.(Official White House photo) 

“Never had I ever been so compelled to meet so many new people in the duration of a week,” said White, who looks forward to working in a field associated with international relations. “As it turns out, success, confidence, and love of community service are contagious, especially when surrounded by well over a hundred people who not only carry, but epitomize, these qualities. From the other delegates to the military mentors to the other adults who were around during the week, I can honestly say my favorite part of the United States Senate Youth Program was spending time with such a remarkable group of people.”

It was six years since Palazzo last touched U.S. soil, yet she received “quite the welcome” from the military mentors.

Makayla Palazzo

Makayla Palazzo, a senior at Kubasaki High School in Okinawa, Japan stands with Virginia Senator Tim Kaine at the White House.(Official White House photo) 


“The program truly could not have been the same without them,” said Palazzo, who is also interested in the United Nations human rights sector. “As a military dependent, I spend my life surrounded by service members. However, I have never met any of the caliber of our mentors.”

“It was amazing that these people were able to run such a large program so seamlessly, and despite the fact that they had so much to do in preparation for the other ninety-something delegates’ arrivals, they were still very warm and friendly,” said Palazzo.

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 was “to increase young Americans’ understanding of the interrelationships of the three branches of government, the caliber and responsibilities of federally elected and appointed officials, and the vital importance of democratic decision making not only for America but for people around the world.”


Click here to watch DoDEA news coverage of the USSYP visit

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 of the 104 student delegates with a $5,000 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.

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. Now more than 5,000 strong, alumni of the program continue to excel and develop impressive qualities that are often directed toward public service. Among the many distinguished alumni are: Senator Susan Collins, the first delegate to be elected U.S. Senator; New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the first delegate to be elected governor; Congressman Cory Gardner, the first delegate to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives; former Chief Judge Robert Henry, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit; former Ambassador to West Germany Richard Burt, and former Presidential Advisors Thomas "Mack" McLarty and Karl Rove. Additional notables include former Lt. Governor of Idaho David LeRoy, former President of the Progressive Policy Institute Robert Shapiro, military officers, members of state legislatures, Foreign Service officers, top congressional staff, healthcare providers and university educators.

Members of the USSYP 2013 51st Annual Senate Advisory Committee are: Co-Chairs — Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina. Advisory Committee — Senator Christopher A. Coons of Delaware, Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Senator Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Senator Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey, Senator John Boozman of Arkansas, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Each year, the Honorary Co-Chairs of the program are the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders and the Vice President of the United States.


United States Senate Youth Program:

About DoDEA Pacific:

The first organized schools for the children of U.S. military personnel serving in the Pacific were established in 1946 during post-World War II reconstruction. Throughout the decades, Department of Defense schools evolved to become a comprehensive and high-performing K-12 school system solely dedicated to educating the children of America’s heroes. Today, DoDEA Pacific’s 49 schools serve over 23,500 children of U.S. military and eligible DoD civilian personnel families stationed throughout the Pacific theater. The DoDEA Pacific teaching, administrative and school support team includes more than 3,300 full-time professionals. The schools are geographically organized into four districts: Guam, Japan, Okinawa and South Korea.

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DoDEA Pacific Public Affairs

Unit 35007
APO, AP 96376
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From the States: 011-81-6117-44-5657

The initiates and manages DoDEA's communications and outreach efforts for the Pacific to include Guam, Japan, Okinawa, South Korea. The office is responsible for media relations, internal information programs and communication with students, parents, teachers, school administrators and the public.