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Wisconsin Students Selected for United States Senate Youth Program

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) recently announced that high school students Parker Anthony De Deker and Harjasan Singh will join Wisconsin Sens. Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin in representing the state during the 61st annual USSYP Washington Week, to be held March 4-11, 2023. During the program week, the student delegates will attend meetings and briefings with senators, the president, a justice of the Supreme Court, and leaders of cabinet agencies, among others. De Deker, of Neenah, and Singh, of Oak Creek, were selected from among the state’s top student leaders to be part of the 104 national student delegation. Each delegate will also receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study.

Each year, this extremely competitive, merit-based program provides the most outstanding high school students -- two from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity -- with an intensive week-long study of the federal government and the people who lead it.

The overall mission of the program is to instill a more profound knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service. In addition to the program week, The Hearst Foundations provide each student with a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history, and public affairs. All expenses for Washington Week are also provided by The Hearst Foundations; as stipulated in S.Res.324, no government funds are utilized.

About the Students

Parker De Deker, a senior at Neenah High School, serves as the Student Government Association president. He is the student representative to his local board of education, a board member for the Northeast Wisconsin American Civil Liberties Union, president of the Fox Cities Key Club International chapter, and president of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He has accumulated 2,500 service hours. He is president of the Neenah Speech and Debate team and is the reigning national champion and presiding officer in Congressional Debate: House. Parker feels strongly about political activism and states his interest in serving his community stems from his childhood experiences. He plans to earn a Ph.D. in behavioral psychology and a Juris Doctorate with a specification in civil rights litigation and environmental crimes prosecution. Eventually, he aspires to work for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Harjasan Singh, a senior at Oak Creek High School, serves as a Student Council state officer. He participated in the Wisconsin State Scholar Program and is the Region IV president for the Wisconsin Association of School Councils. Inspired by his culture and as a first-generation student, Singh plans to major in government and economics and be the first turbaned U.S. Senator to be elected to office. He founded the Sikh Youth Association, which has the goal of identifying, addressing, and raising awareness of social issues within the Sikh community. He strives to connect with youth and empower underrepresented Sikhs. His future goals include addressing the issue of global poverty and working to make the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives more representative of America’s diverse nature.

Chosen as alternates to the 2023 program were Eden Cottrell, of Milwaukee, who attends Golda Meir High School, and Cooper Antczak, of Weyerhaeuser, who attends Chetek-Weyerhaeuser High School.

Selection Process

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 Wisconsin delegates and alternates were designated by Wisconsin State Superintendent Dr. Jill Underly.

The 2024 application for the Wisconsin USSYP positions will open in September 2023. More information about the program and application process can be found on the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction's website.

This item was submitted by Kristen McDaniel, Social Studies Consultant at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.