By Melinda Munson
For Skagway Senior Callia Fielding, two times is the charm. After her second year applying, Fielding was chosen as one of two Alaska highschoolers to participate in the The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) in Washington D.C. this March.
Fielding will join Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan for a week-long study of the federal government as part of the 61st annual Washington Week.
The application process was rigorous and included a Public Affairs Exam, followed by an interview. Fielding said the exam is where she needed to improve last year, and spent an entire year preparing for this year’s test.
“I was really proud of Callia for her persistence,” said Fielding’s father, Kent Fielding. “She was a finalist last year and when she didn’t win, became more determined to be selected this year. She sets big goals for herself and works hard.”
Fielding currently serves as the Skagway School student body president, is the captain of the Drama, Debate and Forensics team (DDF) and is active in the Alaska Association of Student Governments and the Youth Advocacy Institute.
She is passionate about advocacy, specifically race relations, feminism and climate justice.
The USSYP appointment comes with a $10,000 college scholarship Fielding plans to use to study architecture. Fielding hopes to specialize in urban design, with an emphasis on sustainability.
She says she is looking forward to meeting the other Alaska delegate, Jasmine Trotter of Eagle River, and the other 102 participants who Fielding describes as “an astounding group of people.”
According to USSYP, the “overall mission of the program is to help instill within each class of USSYP student delegates more profound knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service.”
Fielding, who visited D.C. last summer for DDF and experienced the metropolis as a tourist, is excited to see the city with civil servants and experience “behind the scenes of how they do their jobs.” She hopes to meet Rep. Mary Peltola.
USSYP Washington Week is held March 4 to 11. Visit https://ussenateyouth.org for more information.