Department of Defense Education Activity

DoDEA Students Selected for US Senate Youth Program

ALEXANDRIA, VA — March 12, 2021 — The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) has announced that DoDEA-Europe high school students Mr. Caden Richard Burkman and Ms. Amanda Marie Wills will represent the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) during the 59th annual USSYP Washington Week, to be held March 14 - 17, 2021. Caden Burkman of Stuttgart, Germany and Amanda Wills of Alconbury, United Kingdom were selected from among DODEA’s top student leaders to be part of the 104 national student delegation who will each receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study. Due to the pandemic, the 2021 program will break ground as the first-ever fully virtual Washington Week, and is designed to be a highly interactive and exciting education and leadership forum for the nation’s most outstanding student leaders.

Caden BurkmanCaden Burkman, a U.S. resident of Colorado, is a junior at Stuttgart High School, serves as the vice president of the Junior class, treasurer/publicist of National Honor Society, lead delegate of Model United Nations and as the founding member of his local chapter of Model United States Senate. Caden plans to attend university to study international relations and would like to one day work for the United Nations. As an active member of his local community logging over 130 service hours, Caden is looking forward to gaining valuable experience and insight during Washington Week to increase his involvement in local and national government.

Amanda WillsAmanda Wills, a U. S. resident of Florida, is a junior at Alconbury Middle High School in England, serves as the president of the Junior Class, ambassador for the Model UN Club, JROTC commander, and secretary of the National Honor Society. Since freshman year, Amanda has performed over 100 volunteer hours giving back to the community. Amanda believes the United States Senate Youth Program will help her explore her interest in government and how our government impacts lives at the federal, state, and local levels.

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 Senate leadership of the day, 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. However, this year, the program will be held online. 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. All expenses for Washington Week are also provided by The Hearst Foundations; as stipulated in S.Res.324, no government funds are utilized.

Chosen as alternates to the 2021 program were Mr. Matthew Oh, a resident of Humphreys, South Korea, who attends Humphreys High School and Mr. Joseph Camuso, a resident of Bahrain, who attends Bahrain School.

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 5,800 strong, alumni of the program continue to excel and develop impressive qualities that are often directed toward public service.

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 DODEA delegates and alternates were designated by Mr. Thomas M. Brady, DoDEA Director. 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. Each year, the Honorary Co-Chairs of the program are the vice president of the United States and the Senate majority and minority leaders.

DoDEA plans, directs, coordinates, and manages pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education programs for school-age children of Department of Defense personnel who would otherwise not have access to high-quality public education. DoDEA schools are located in Europe, the Pacific, Western Asia, the Middle East, Cuba, the United States, Guam, and Puerto Rico. DoDEA also provides support and resources to Local Educational Agencies throughout the United States that serve children of military families.