Arnav Dharmagadda, a junior at Russell High School (Greenup County) and Lauren Wood, a junior at duPont Manual High School (Jefferson County), were selected from among the state’s top student leaders to be part of the national 104-student delegation of the United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP), who also will each receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study.
The students will be representing Kentucky during the 60th annual USSYP Washington Week, to be held March 6-9.
Chosen as alternates to the 2022 program were Spandana Pavuluri, a junior at duPont Manual High School and Logan Justice, a senior at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School (Fayette County).
The U.S. Senate Youth Program was created by Senate Resolution 324 in 1962 and has been sponsored by the Senate and fully funded by The Hearst Foundations every year. The 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 weeklong study of the federal government and the people who lead it. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the 2022 program will be held online through a comprehensive and highly interactive virtual education and leadership forum.
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 Kentucky delegates and alternates were designated by Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass.
Dharmagadda is a representative on the Commissioner’s Student Advisory Council. He has served his community through extracurricular organizations, like Student Y Club, and was a founding member of the Building a Stronger Foundation in Education initiative, serving as a student teacher enriching educational opportunities for local students.
Dharmagadda also has taken on career responsibility through a fellowship and renewed internship at Teach for America’s Reinvention Lab. In this position, he influenced the next generation of classrooms and developed himself as a leader. He plans to study political science, economics, public policy or a related field at the undergraduate level and then pursue a law degree before working in government or the nonprofit sector.
Wood serves as the historian of the Junior Class. She has a strong interest in government and politics and serves as the governor of the 2022 Kentucky Youth Assembly (KYA) Conference 1, a youth model state government conference. She serves as an officer for her school’s Y-Club, where she helps prepare students for the annual KYA and Kentucky United Nations Assembly conferences, and is captain of the Manual Congressional Debate team.
As the local service chair of the Mayor’s Youth Board, Wood works alongside board leadership to coordinate service projects impacting the Louisville community. She is a member of Manual’s One Blue Wall art and literary magazine and competes on the varsity written assessment team. She takes theater classes at Commonwealth Theatre Center and loves writing poetry in her free time.
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, among others.
In addition to outstanding leadership abilities and a strong commitment to volunteer work, the student delegates rank academically in the top 1% of their states among high school juniors and seniors.