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Two high school students from Maine going to Washington to serve in US Youth Senate

Each year, the United States Senate Youth Program selects two students from each state to attend Washington Week.

MAINE, USA — The United States Senate Youth Program selects two students from each state to attend Washington Week each year.

Maine's chosen students, Natalie Emmerson, a senior at Morse High School, and Shawn Jiminez, a senior at Gardiner Area High School, have already done so much in their schools and community. 

"I nominated Natalie because of the types of things she has gotten involved with over the past few years at Morse High School," Morse High School Counselor Leslie Trundy said. "She founded a club that was in support of women's empowerment."

Jiminez's gifted and talented teacher, RayeAnne Desoto, said she has been working with him since third grade. 

"Shawn is very well-read and very well-spoken. I can see him in the future working in D.C., I can see him making changes and bringing those forth and convincing others to do so," Desoto said.

Jiminez said he saw firsthand some of the issues his community was dealing with and knew he wanted to help service. 

"I have faced many hardships and challenges in my own life, so being able to help alleviate the stress and hardships that others are dealing with made me want to be determined to want to be a part of that change," Jiminez said.

The two Maine students were both awarded $10,000 from the program to use toward college.

"I come from a low-income household, so worrying about paying for college has been a very big factor on my mind when choosing which schools I'm applying to. This $10,000 scholarship is really helpful," Jiminez said. 

Students from all across the country will be in Washington, D.C. from March 4 to March 11 to attend the week-long program during Washington Week.

"One-hundred-and-three other young adults from across the country who are also passionate about these issues [will be there] and I will get to live and work with them for a week in D.C.," Emmerson said. 

Emmerson is Morse High School's first finalist since 1977, and Jiminez is Gardiner Area High School's first-ever candidate. 

"[I'm] grateful to represent this school for the first time," Jiminez said. 

"There are a lot of really young people in this country who are motivated and interested in this. I am honored to have been selected from those to work with some of the best in the country," Emmerson said. 

The Hearst Foundations have fully funded the program, including transportation, accommodations, meals, and individual college scholarships for each student.

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