Blaufuss attends Youth Senate Program

Serves as one of Kansas’ two delegates

Faye Smith

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Permission granted by Obey giant (official website for artist Shepard Fairey)

As a child, junior Eli Blaufuss was always interested in history. Each Christmas he received multiple books, even an entire retelling of the history of war. Little did he know that his passion for history and American Civics would lead him to become a delegate for one of the most prestigious programs in the U.S., the United States Senate Youth Program.
The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) is a government based organization that sets out to find two individuals from every state, Defense Education and the District of Columbia that have an interest in American Government and Politics. These students are sent to Washington D.C. and meet with high ranking government officials throughout the three branches of the Federal Government, in addition to a $10,000 college scholarship.

“The main goal is to allow students that are passionate about politics really see into the American political system up front instead of sitting at home watching the news. You will be able to be there and meet with the senators, and the people making the decisions,” Blaufuss said. “It’s also a way to network political nerds into one big group so they can get to know each other and have a view of American politics that no one really gets.”

After receiving an email from AP Government teacher Grant Scott about the program, Blaufuss jumped at the opportunity. This required Blaufuss to send in an application and take a Government and Civics test administered by Scott. In addition to Scott, Blaufuss said his parents also pushed him to apply for the program.

“My parents were excited about it and thought it was a great idea when I told them. My parents kind of constantly haggled me about applying for scholarships, and saving up money for college since it’s so expensive. When I introduced them to this, they thought it was a great opportunity,” Blaufuss said.

Blaufuss was selected among eight candidates from the state of Kansas to interview for the two delegate positions for the program. After completing a phone interview, Blaufuss played the waiting game. One night after a Scholars Bowl tournament, he came home to find the letter had arrived.

“I split open the envelope and opened the folder. The front envelope had a photo of the capitol building and had ‘United States Senate Youth Program’. In that moment, I was like ‘What’s going on here?’” Blaufuss said. “I read the first sentence like five times to make sure it was real. I sort of looked at my parents and read out the first sentence that said ‘Congratulations Eli on being selected to the United States Senate Youth Program’. I was just stunned, I was actually shaking the entire time. Kinda glad my mom decided to take that video.”

Benjamin Sawaya from Overland Park will be joining him as the other delegate from the state of Kansas. By attending the program from Mar. 2 to Mar. 9, Blaufuss believes he will have a view of the American government unlike any other.

“I’ll be there [in D.C.] to see what’s going on, to get opinions from the people themselves, to ask the questions that matter the most to me, instead of going off questions that reporters ask,” Blaufuss said. “Being able to ask the tougher questions I am interested about will definitely change my perspective and help with forming my own ideas and views.”

The USSYP program has many distinguished alumni, including two current senators Susan Collins (ME) and Cory Gardner (CO). That being said, Blaufuss believes this program will have a lasting impression on his academic and future career as an appellate judge for the Federal Circuit Court.

“The biggest advantage is that it will probably look really good on a college application. It’s something that only 103 other people will have, so being able to put down that I was a delegate from Kansas for the United States Senate Youth Program would automatically attract the eye,” Blaufuss said. “Apart from the scholarship and the program, being able to say you were an alumni of that organization is a fantastic attribute to a college application.”

For Scott, this will be the first student of his to pursue and participate in the program. Scott believes that Blaufuss’ attendance will encourage more students to think about looking at the program itself.

“I hope it not only encourages more students to think about this program, but I hope it encourages more students to think about ‘Hey, you know there’s not reason to not try and do that. If I do what’s the worse thing that will happen? I will be denied, and won’t have any negative impact on me. The worst thing that could happen is I might not be accepted,’” Scott said. “Then you’re losing nothing, and you could potentially be gaining a great opportunity first hand.”