US Senator Mike Rounds Weekly Column: Enriching Your Education

Enriching Your Education
By Senator Mike Rounds 

When our four kids were growing up, the last days of summer were always bittersweet. They marked the end of the boating and camping season, but they also meant that a new school year was about to begin. No matter what age our kids were, they’d always get excited to compare class schedules with their friends or go to that first football game of the season. Making sure all kids get a great education in South Dakota has always been important to me—as a dad, a governor, a senator and now a grandfather. I’m fortunate to be able to offer a number of educational opportunities to South Dakota students through my Senate office.

For college students, we offer internship opportunities year-round in both my Washington, D.C., and South Dakota offices. Interns in the Washington office may work on tracking legislation, researching bills, attending committee hearings and briefings, leading tours of the U.S. Capitol, handling constituent phone calls, sorting mail and providing legislative support. Duties in the South Dakota offices include researching constituent inquiries and requests, participation in outreach activities, assisting staff on special projects, handling phone calls and constituent requests and sorting mail. In all offices, students will work closely with constituents and staff, polish their research and writing skills and gain an in-depth understanding of a Senate office. We offer college credit, as well. If you think this may be an experience you’re interested in, I encourage you to visit my website at www.rounds.senate.gov/internships to learn more about the program. 

For high school students thinking about applying to one of our nation’s service academies, my office holds a number of Academy Day events throughout the state so students and parents can learn more about the enrollment process at the academies. These include the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Stay tuned for an announcement about our next Academy Day!

Another opportunity that the Senate offers high school students is the U.S. Senate Page Program. Senate Pages live and go to school in D.C., and spend their days both in the classroom and working on the Senate floor. Some of the Page duties include carrying messages for senators, transporting bills and amendments in the Capitol and preparing the Senate chamber for business. To apply to the Page program, you must be a high school junior and at least 16 years old. To learn more, visit www.senate.gov/reference/page.

The U.S. Senate Youth Program is yet another educational opportunity for high school students. Its focus is on developing leadership skills for students interested in pursuing a career in public service. Each year, two students are chosen from each state for this prestigious program, and spend one week in Washington learning the ins and outs of the federal government. Each delegate to the program is awarded a $10,000 college scholarship. To apply, visit www.ussenateyouth.org.

If you’re interested in government, politics or public service, I hope you take advantage of these excellent opportunities to further enrich your education. If you have questions about any of these programs, or want to learn more, contact my office at (202) 224-5842. Jean and I wish all South Dakota students a great school year! 

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