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Students headed to Washington, D. C., will receive $5,000 scholarship

Washington, D.C.– U.S. Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) today announced the names of the two students who have been selected as delegates to the 49th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) that will be held March 5 – 12, 2011 in Washington, D.C. Chase Blasi of Colwich and Yuqi Hou of Lenexa were chosen from across the state to be part of the group of 104 student delegates who will attend the program’s 49th annual Washington Week.

"I congratulate the Kansans selected to represent our state in the Senate Youth Program," Sen. Roberts said. "Their hard work and leadership has earned them a rare opportunity to see our government in operation first-hand."

"I commend the outstanding achievements of these remarkably talented and engaged young Kansans," Sen. Moran said. "The United States Senate Youth Program offers delegates the opportunity to learn about their government and the legislative process, and helps ensure a generation of well-rounded citizens."

The USSYP was created by Senate Resolution 324 in 1962 and has been sponsored by the Senate and fully funded by The Hearst Foundations since its inception. The impetus for the program according to the Congressional Record was "to increase young Americans’ understanding of the interrelationships of the three branches of government, the caliber and responsibilities of federally elected and appointed officials, and the vital importance of democratic decision making not only for America but for people around the world."

The two Kansas students who have been selected as delegates to the 49th annual USSYP are:

Chase Blasi of Colwich, who attends Andale High School where he serves as president of the Andale chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Chase is an active member of various organizations in his school including serving as president and founder of Youth Making a Difference, an organization created to help teenagers get involved and make a difference on issues that matter to them. After graduation Chase plans to attend Wichita State University and obtain degrees in business and political science; and

Yuqi Hou of Lenexa, who attends Shawnee Mission West High School where she serves on the Student Council Executive Board. Yuqi is ranked first out of 456 in her class. She is very active in many school related organizations and was a national qualifier for the Lincoln-Douglas debate 2010 and a national qualifier in Policy Debate 2009.

Chosen as alternates to the 2011 program were Taylor Gravett, a resident of Weir, who attends Southeast High School and Alexandrea Feldkamp, a resident of Lincoln, who attends Lincoln Jr/Sr High School.

Each year this extremely competitive merit-based program brings 104 of 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 week-long study of the federal government and the people who lead it. 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. In addition to the program week, The Hearst Foundations provide each of the 104 student delegates with a $5,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs. Transportation and all expenses for Washington Week are also provided by The Hearst Foundations, as stipulated in S.Res. 324; no government funds are utilized.

The chief educational officer in each state selects the delegates after nomination by teachers and principals. This year’s delegates were designated by Commissioner of Eductation Dr. Diane DeBacker.

While in Washington the student delegates will attend meetings and briefings with senators and Congressional staff, the president, a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies, an ambassador to the United States and top members of the national media. The students will also tour many national monuments and several museums.

In addition to remarkable leadership abilities and a strong commitment to public service, this year’s students rank academically in the top 1 percent of their states. They continue to excel and develop impressive qualities that are often directed toward public service. Among the many distinguished former program delegates are Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the first program delegate elected to the Senate; Congressman Cory Gardner of Colorado, the first alumnus to be elected to the House; New Jersey Governor Christopher Christie; former Chief Judge Robert Henry, U.S. Court of Appeals; and presidential advisors Thomas "Mack" McLarty and Karl Rove.

The co-chairs of the USSYP 2011 49th Annual Senate Advisory Committee are Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. The Advisory Committee is made up of Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, Sen. Kay R. Hagan of North Carolina, Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, Sen. Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts, Sen. James Risch of Idaho and Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi. Each year, the honorary co-chairs of the program are the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders and the Vice President of the United States.