Julia Patterson, an incoming senior at Marysville High School, will attend the week-long program, American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) Girls Nation July 24-31 in Washington D.C. after participating in Buckeye Girls State in Ohio last month. (Photo submitted)
Julia Patterson, an incoming senior at Marysville High School, is one of two participants selected and sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary of Ohio to attend American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) Girls Nation July 24-31 in Washington D.C.
“I am super honored to be one of the two selected. I’m just super excited,” Patterson said. “This is kind of what I want to do when I’m older and where I want to be. I hope to go to D.C. either for college or to move there for a career when I get older, so I’m just super honored that I get the opportunity to go this early in my life.”
After learning about Buckeye Girls State from her former government teacher around February, Patterson,16, applied to the program.
She participated in Buckeye Girls State, which is Ohio’s week-long program about the political process and levels of city, county and state government for female students entering their senior year of high school. The program was held at the University of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio from June 13-19.
According to the Buckeye Girls State website, the goals of the program are to develop leadership and pride in American citizens, to educate the selected “delegates” about the U.S. system of government, to instill in the “delegates” a greater understanding of American traditions and to stimulate a desire to maintain the government process.
“I went in thinking I was going to run for Senate, and I ended up running for Senate,” Patterson said about her experience. “Throughout the week, we were campaigning. There were several caucuses that were held, and I made it through endorsement and the primary election. In the general election, I actually ended up tying with another girl for a Senate position.”
Ultimately, Patterson lost a coin toss for the Senate position.
“So, then the next day, I had to go out and find an appointed position,” she explained, adding that she pursued a role at the county level. “I got an appointed position with the county commissioners. So, through that, I worked with the county engineer to build a county project.”
Patterson helped develop a fairground area for the county.
“Then, I traveled around to different city councils and tried to get their budgets approved,” she added.
When Patterson applied for Buckeye Girls State, she also completed paperwork for ALA Girls Nation.
“I had to submit a student portfolio and an idea for a bill that I would debate and vote on while I was there,” she said. “Once I was actually at Girls State, they picked a few of us to do interviews. So then, the last morning of Girls State, I interviewed, and then I found out I got chosen before I left.”
During the week-long national program in late July, Patterson will be one of the “senators” and participate in a mock legislature. According to the American Legion Auxiliary website, the female students will submit bills and resolutions, participate in senate sessions and elect officials such as president and vice president.
In preparation for the program, Patterson has been contacting Olivia Ortiz of Medina, who is the other Ohio participant, to submit their bill.
The “senators” will also visit Capitol Hill and meet with their state senators and representatives. Patterson and her peers will have the opportunity to discuss local issues and share bills they have written as part of ALA Girls Nation.
“I know we get to meet the president, and we get to talk to our senators and house representatives,” Patterson said excitedly.
Additionally, the high school students will participate in field trips to see historical Washington monuments, Arlington National Cemetery and the White House.