The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) is a delegation of 104 students (two high school juniors or seniors from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity) that gather in Washington, D.C. for an intensive week-long study of the federal government and the people who lead it. The program is merit-based and highly competitive and is based solely on the student’s outstanding abilities and demonstrated qualities of leadership in an elected or appointed high school student office. The overall mission of the USSYP is to help instill within each class of student delegates a more profound knowledge of the American political process.
The USSYP was created by Senate Resolution 324 in 1962 and has been sponsored by the Senate and fully funded by The Hearst Foundation since inception. In addition to the all expense paid week in Washington, The Hearst Foundation provides each student delegate with a $5,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs.
In addition to outstanding leadership abilities and a strong commitment to public service, the students generally rank academically in the top one percent of their states. They continue to excel and develop impressive qualities that are often directed toward public service.
While in Washington, Eldridge attended meetings and briefings with the President, Senator Rand Paul, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the Turkish Ambassador to the United States, many congressional staff members and leaders of cabinet agencies. “We spent a good amount of time listening to people and asking questions from the President of the United States to the National Curator of Arts,” said Eldridge. “It was that large of a range of people with whom we interacted.”
The students also toured the main buildings such as the Capitol, Pentagon, White House, State Department and CIA Compound. Eldridge returned with a greater knowledge and appreciation of how our democracy operates and it did foster his political aspirations.
Eldridge serves as Student Government President and is a member of the Superintendent’s Advisory Council. He is a captain in the Junior ROTC, a vice president of the National Honor Society, and a member of the Beta Club. He is also active in the community. Eldridge is involved with the youth ministry at First Baptist Church and is the interim pianist at Covenant United Methodist Church. Corey is a four-year Key Club member and received the Eastman Young Leaders Award by Rochester University. In addition, he received Advanced Placement U.S. history and music awards as a junior and sophomore.
Eldridge is the son of Jeffrey Nelson Eldridge and the late Ansley Darlene Eldridge. His grandparents are Milt and Mary Rogers Owens of Speedwell, Tenn., and Gene and Pat Cowan Johnston of Middlesboro.
Eldridge plans to continue his education at the University of Tennessee and pursue his dream of holding political office.
Tabitha Webb is a staff writer for the Middlesboro Daily News. Contact her via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.