State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that two academically accomplished and civically active high school students will represent California in the William Randolph Hearst Foundation’s 52nd annual U.S. Senate Youth Program.
Daniel Cameron Hamidi of Yorba Linda (Orange County), a senior at Valencia High School in the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District, and Sabrina Mia Van Zuiden of Chula Vista (San Diego County), a senior at Hilltop High School in the Sweetwater Union High School District, each will receive a $5,000 scholarship and attend a one-week, all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., in March.
Torlakson also named two alternates in the event one or both of the delegates are unable to attend. The first alternate is Justin Marc Hopkins of Los Angeles, a senior at Loyola High School, a parochial school in Los Angeles. The second alternate is William Oh of Santa Clarita (Los Angeles County), a senior at Golden Valley High School in the William S. Hart Union High School District.
“Young people like these four are a big part of the reason I’m so optimistic about California’s future,” Torlakson said. “They combine a natural curiosity and care for the world around them with hard work and support from their schools and communities. I’m proud that they will be representing California in Washington.”
Students must be nominated by their high school principal to participate in the program. A selection committee from the California Department of Education (CDE) reviewed eligible nominees, and Torlakson selected the awardees based on the quality of the application, high academic achievement, interpersonal and communication skills, knowledge of American government and U.S. history, involvement in school and community activities, demonstrated qualities of leadership, extracurricular activities, and service to the community.
The four students are scheduled to be recognized by the State Board of Education during its January 15-16, 2014, meeting in Sacramento.
For more information on the U.S. Senate Youth Program, please visit the CDE’s Web site at United States Senate Youth Program – Initiatives & Programs.
About William Oh
Second alternate is William Oh of Santa Clarita, a senior at Golden Valley High School in the William S. Hart Union High School District and is president of the Associated Student Body. He has been active in school politics since his freshman year, when he was class president.
Since the beginning of his high school career, he has been continually active in school events and politics, including as founder and president of the community service-oriented Octagon Club, president of the Speech and Debate Club, co-president of the Key Club, board member of the City of Santa Clarita Visions in Progress Youth Advisory Committee, and has been a summer intern for Congressman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon.
William has donated hundreds of hours in community service activities, including campaigning for McKeon, President Barack Obama, Warren Furutani for Los Angeles City Council, and John Choi for Los Angeles City Council.
William has a 4.5 grade point average and is an AP Scholar with Distinction, in addition to receiving several academic awards. As a sophomore he was a Green Your School national winner and was awarded a $5,000 environmental grant from dosomething.org for his recycling campaign.
“The vote and the American system of government and politics make me marvel,” he wrote in his USSYP application. “I want to be able to continue this American tradition: the power of the vote, the opportunity to fight for a better life, and the chance to advocate for what is right.”