Local student is declared a semi-finalist in national scholarship program

by | December 15, 2018 7:00 am

Last Updated: December 13, 2018 at 9:21 pm

Faith Lawson

By Sarah Middleton

Scott’s Branch Middle/High School senior Faith Lawson has been announced as one of the top ten semi-finalists from South Carolina in the 2018 United States Senate Youth Scholarship program. Each year, two students are chosen from each state, plus Washington, D.C., and the Department of Defense Education Activity, to participate as delegates in Washington, D.C., during a week-long conference in early March.

This scholarship is sponsored by the U.S. Senate Youth Program (USSYP). The program was established in 1962 by U.S. Senate Resolution 324, and the Hearst Foundation promised to financially support the program for as long as the Senate would sponsor it.

According to the program’s web site, the program was created 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.”

In order to qualify to represent South Carolina in this competition, a student must be a current junior or senior in a South Carolina high school with a minimum GPA of 3.0. The student must also be an elected officer of the student body, student council, class government or a district, regional or state-level civic or educational organization.

As part of the selection process, Lawson underwent a series of tests on government and politics, showcasing her knowledge on the subjects. She also submitted an essay and a PowerPoint presentation about herself. After learning she was a semi-finalist, Lawson was interviewed by a panel of judges in November as part of the selection process for the finalists.

Lawson was surprised to learn she was a semi-finalist, as she was competing against students from more than 1,000 schools across South Carolina. She is humbled by the knowledge that she was selected.

“I didn’t think I was that smart,” said Lawson. “But when I made it this far, I felt proud, because no one ever in history made it that far from our school.”

Should Lawson be selected as a finalist, she will travel to Washington, D.C., during Washington Week, an all-expenses-paid trip. While there, the Lawson would have the opportunity to glimpse how the national government operates.

The list of activities involves attending briefings and meetings to hear policy discussions with senators, the president, various cabinet members, federal agency leaders and senior members of national media. In addition, Lawson would participate in a meeting with a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Each delegate will also be mentored for the week by one of 17 military officers representing each branch of the United States Armed Services.

On December 19, Lawson will find out if she has been selected as one of the two South Carolina delegates, receiving a $10,000 scholarship and traveling to the Washington Week conference.

“I would be relieved and proud because that money would mean a lot for my college career,” said Lawson.

The Scott’s Branch Middle/High School family wishes Lawson the best of luck.

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