The California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond on Dec. 5, 2023, announced two outstanding high school students to represent California in the 62nd annual United States Senate Youth Program. Emi Sakamoto of Culver City, a senior at Culver City High School, and Aaron Combs of San Diego, a senior at Canyon Crest Academy, were selected for their exceptional leadership skills, noteworthy commitments to their schools and communities, and academic and extracurricular achievements as California’s delegates in this highly competitive program.
“I’m incredibly excited to learn from the leaders of today and the leaders of tomorrow — to be challenged, inspired, and energized by our collective commitment to servant leadership,”Sakamoto offered “Most importantly, my Ba-chan (grandmother in Japanese) taught me what it means to give until your arms are empty and your heart is full. I can only hope to make her proud by beginning my journey in public service through USSYP.”
Sakamoto is also the 76th Chief Justice for the California Supreme Court in the YMCA Youth in Government program, a position elected by the members of the Youth in Government at a statewide conference.
“I am incredibly proud of and impressed by these extraordinary students, who are doing so much in their schools and communities to make a difference in the lives of others. Their significant accomplishments speak to their impressive character and dedication,” Thurmond said. “They will make excellent representatives for California.”
The delegates are scheduled to be recognized by the State Board of Education during its January 18–19, 2024, meeting in Sacramento. The two student leaders from each state, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity each receive a $10,000 undergraduate scholarship and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for Washington Week to meet and learn from high-level appointed and elected government officials from March 2–9, 2024.