December 7, 2016
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Ricky Cooks, THS Senior, Selected by TEA Commissioner as Texas Delegate to United States Senate Youth Program
Texarkana, TX – Texas High School Senior and Student Body President, Ricky Cooks, has been selected by the Texas Education Agency Commissioner of Education to serve as one of two student delegates from Texas at the 55th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) which will be held in Washington, D.C. from March 4-11, 2017.
Established in 1962 by U.S. Senate Resolution 324, the program was created for high school students so that they could gain an in-depth view of the Senate and the federal government overall as well as a deeper understanding of the interrelationship of the legislative, judicial and executive branches. The USSYP allows for a unique educational experience for outstanding high school students interested in pursuing careers in public service.
“When I looked at my phone on Friday and saw Austin calling, I was shocked but super excited,” said Cooks. “However, when I heard I was one of two in Texas selected, I really just freaked out while in the Books-A-Million parking lot.”
Delegates will have the opportunity to experience their national government in action by meeting and learning from the highest level of elected and appointed officials in Washington. They will hear major policy addresses from Senators, cabinet members, officials from the Department of State and Defense and directors of other federal agencies as well as participate in a meeting with a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
“As a Texas Association of Student Councils state officer, I had heard about the program and knew that this was an opportunity I had to apply for,” shared Cooks. “I am most excited to gain connections and collaborate with not only other student leaders in the country but professionals in Washington, D.C. This adventure will set the stage for my future dreams and aspirations.”
Selected delegates must hold student body office or another elected or appointed position in their communities and show academic interest and aptitude in government, history and politics. The chief state school officer in each state makes the final selection of two delegates and two alternates. The program is merit-based and highly competitive and the chosen delegates are consistently of the highest caliber in the nation.
Following graduation in May 2017, Cooks plans to attend University of Texas – Austin as an Accounting/Pre-Law Major. He hopes to focus on corporate law with the dream of going into public service. Cooks is the son of Sharon and Ricky Cooks, Sr.
“I am excited for Ricky and the opportunities that being part of the United States Senate Youth Program will afford him,” commented Brad Bailey, Texas High School Principal. “He is a wonderful young man and has been a school leader since he came to us in the 9th Grade. I have no doubt that Ricky can accomplish all that he sets out to do and will do it with integrity, honor and as a proud Texas Tiger.”
Honorary Co-Chairs for the 2017 United States Senate Youth Program are Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Senator Harry Reid and Senator Mitch McConnell.
The 104 student delegates also receive $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship to the college or university of their choice with encouragement to continue coursework in government and history. The Hearst Foundation has fully funded the USSYP since its inception, including transportation, accommodations, meals and individual college scholarships – no government funds are ever utilized.
The USSP alumni now number over 5,500. Among the many distinguished alumni of the program are Senator Susan Collins, the first delegate to become a U.S. Senator; former Chief Judge Robert Henry, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit; New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the first delegate to be elected governor; former Ambassador to West Germany Richard Burt and former Presidential Advisors Thomas “Mack” McLarty and Karl Rove. Additional notables include former Lt. Governor of Idaho David LeRoy, former President of the Progressive Policy Institute Robert Shapiro, military officers, members of state legislatures, Foreign Service officers, top congressional staff, healthcare providers and university educators.