The 2016 Coolidge Senators Leadership Summit

By Stephanie Wang – 12th Grade, Peters Township High School

As someone immensely interested in political science and economics, the Coolidge Senators Leadership Summit, a three-day all-expense paid trip from August 19th to August 21st in Washington D.C., was an experience I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.

I was given this opportunity through the Coolidge Scholarship, which awarded 3 students a full-ride scholarship to any accredited university based on their leadership, academics, and community service and this trip to semifinalists. In total, 41 students from 19 different states came on this trip.

While three days from may not seem like a long time, in these days we experienced special tours and listened to prominent speakers in politics, business, and economics, as well as formed close bonds with each other. We toured locations like the Supreme Court and the Capitol building and went on a special architectural tour around Washington D.C.

While it wasn’t my first time in the capital, through this summit, I was able to visit locations and buildings that the average tourist didn’t have clearance for—for example, we were able to sit in the floor of the House of Representatives. It was incredible for me to sit down on the seats that bills are voted for and hear from a former Representative from Michigan about how the House works, how bills are passed, and how representatives decide how to vote. Hearing stories and information from someone with almost 20 years of experience as a US Representative was really captivating and eye-opening to me by showing me how the political process actually works on Capitol Hill. In addition to the U.S. Capitol, we also toured the U.S. Supreme Court, the Smithsonian, Mount Vernon, Arlington Cemetery, as well as other important locations throughout the capital.

What made the experience even more informational were the speakers throughout the trip. Speakers varied from former state governors (such as Vermont’s former governor, Gov. Jim Douglas) to a former Governor of the Federal Reserve System (Larry Lindsey). Our lectures ranged from topics from “Economics and Politics” to “Integrity in a Polarized World” to “Presidential Comportment and Diplomacy.”

Of course, as it is election year, there was a lot of discussion between students and the speakers regarding the current economy and the presidential candidates. One interesting point that was raised by an extremely prominent economist was that no matter who the country elects, a recession is incredibly likely, especially considering the recent slow growth of the United States, high asset prices, and low productivity. One lecture concerned the federal budget and how it is our generation’s responsibility to find a solution to Social Security and deal with the spending done by past generations.

Ultimately, all these lectures really put things in perspective for me and urged me to think beyond my own town but to the nation and the world. And on a whole, it was extremely beneficial to hear their ideas, viewpoints, and experiences.

Not to mention, I feel remarkably lucky that I got to know and befriend such impressive and kind individuals. I was able to meet students that have share interests, passions, and principles with me. In fact, the only downside to the trip was its length—it felt like as if minutes after we met each other, we had to say goodbye. Luckily, however, a Coolidge Senators Reunion Summit is being planned to take place in the next year or two, and already, I can’t wait to be reunited with these remarkable students again.

 

Stephanie Wang 2

Stephanie Wang is a rising senior at Peters Township High School. She was a PYM Reporter last year and is the current head editor of Business Funnel. Stephanie has been published in media outlets like the Almanac and Pittsburgh’s Post-Gazette. Besides writing, Stephanie enjoys cooking and making bad puns.

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