Weekly Columns

Opportunities for young Arkansans to learn more about government through first-hand experience and serve their communities are plentiful and worthwhile. Public service and civic engagement are incredibly important, which is why my staff and I provide multiple avenues for high school, college and graduate students to grow personally and professionally. 

While school was out for the summer, Springdale’s Nora Shitandi had a front-row seat to a unique lesson on American government as a U.S. Senate Page. The rising high school senior said her experience in the prestigious program was one she wouldn’t forget. 

The Senate Page program is a way for students to continue their high school education in the nation’s capital while also contributing to the daily business of the greatest deliberative body in the world. They provide vital assistance to the chamber’s operations and interact with senators and staff. During the school year, pages attend classes to obtain academic credit and continue their education. The Senate Page program offers fall, spring and summer sessions. This summer we were blessed to have Shitandi and Fayetteville’s Joshua Ofodile representing Arkansas as pages.

A few years ago, we launched the Congressional Youth Cabinet (CYC) for Natural State students who want to learn more about the legislative process.

This initiative is designed to inspire public service among Arkansas youth and involve the next generation in creating policies. Participants represent their community and discuss issues facing our state and nation, working with my staff to research an issue and create solutions culminating in a presentation at the end of the year. I enjoy watching the proposals come together, and I am always impressed with the hard work and attention to detail the students bring to the table to address something they are passionate about. The CYC is open to high school juniors and runs throughout the school year. We are accepting applications for the next group of students through September 1.

College and post-graduate students also have a role to play in the nation’s capital or at a local congressional office in Arkansas through my office’s internship program. Interns in the Washington, D.C. office learn about the legislative process and the federal government by working closely with the policy, communications and constituent services staff members.  By assisting my state staff, interns gain direct insight into how a senate office serves and represents Arkansans – including by advocating on their behalf with federal agencies –, engages with the community and helps share feedback with my entire team.  

Participants in these programs are truly the leaders of tomorrow. I am grateful for those who choose to take part in these experiences, and my hope is always that they learn as much as possible and walk away with practical skills and valuable knowledge. Time spent representing their state will undoubtedly help them in their future pursuits, and I can’t wait to see where these talented, aspiring leaders end up.  

These opportunities all have a lot to offer youth and young adults in our state, and I look forward to welcoming them to the ranks of public service and community engagement in the months and years to come. To learn more about these programs visit the Educational Opportunities page on my website to get all the details or start the application process.