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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #15-88
December 7, 2015
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces California
Delegates to the 2016 U.S. Senate Youth Program

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today named two outstanding high school students to represent California in the 54th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP), sponsored by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

Emily Lu of Santa Rosa (Sonoma County), a junior at Maria Carrillo High School in the Santa Rosa City School District, and Zena Meyer of Irvine (Orange County), a junior at Orange County School of the Arts in the Santa Ana Unified School District, were selected for their outstanding scholastic achievement, leadership qualities, and dedication to their schools and communities.

"I'm proud of these remarkable student leaders and their strong commitment to academic excellence and significant participation in public service," Torlakson said. "The extraordinary opportunity they have received will allow them to broaden their knowledge of the political process as they observe the workings of government firsthand."

Torlakson also named two alternates in the event one or both of the delegates are unable to attend. First alternate is Joseph Rowley of Glendora (Los Angeles County), a senior at Glendora High School in the Glendora Unified School District, and the second alternate is Jade Wong of Hacienda Heights (Los Angeles County), a senior at Glen A. Wilson High School in the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District.

To qualify for the program, high school juniors or seniors must hold student body office or other elected or appointed civic or educational organization and express an interest in pursuing a career in public service. They are then nominated by their high school principal. A selection committee from the California Department of Education (CDE) reviews eligible nominees, and Torlakson selects 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 mission of the USSYP is to provide a yearly opportunity for selected students to 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, according to the national site [] External link opens in new window or tab.. The program provides a foundation of knowledge and encouragement for those considering a future of public service on the local, state, or national level.

Two student leaders from each state, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity each will receive a $5,000 scholarship and attend a one-week all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. from March 5–12, 2016, to experience the workings of the national government.

For more information on the U.S. Senate Youth Program, please visit the CDE's Web site at United States Senate Youth Program.

The following are synopses compiled from their extensive biographies:

Emily Lu — Delegate

Emily Lu of Santa Rosa (Sonoma County) is a junior with a grade point average of 4.8 at Maria Carrillo High School in the Santa Rosa City School District. She is the chair of the Junior Commissioner Project (affiliated with the California Commission on the Status of Women.) She is founder and president of the TEAM HBV school chapter that advocates awareness of hepatitis B, has been president for the past three years of the school's Academic Decathlon and math club. She is also the founder and president of Student for Student, a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting high school students worldwide to promote education. During her high school career, Emily has so far devoted more than 800 hours in community service, and she served as a summer intern for State Senator Mike McGuire.

Zena Meyer — Delegate

Zena Meyer of Irvine (Orange County) is a junior carrying a 4.5 grade point average at Orange County School of the Arts in the Santa Ana Unified School District. She is her school's Southern Empire Region Senator for the Southern California Junior State of America as well as the school's chapter co-president. Zena is a contributor to the Los Angeles Times High School Insider and the community service coordinator for the school's National Honor Society. She is a volunteer at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, a volunteer coach for the South Irvine Dolphins swim team, and the director of outreach for the schools' Girl Up Club.

Joseph Rowley — First Alternate

Joseph Rowley of Glendora (Los Angeles County) is a senior with a 4.5 grade point average at Glendora High School in the Glendora Unified School District. He is president of the school's California Scholarship Federation and editor-in-chief of the Tartan Shield newspaper. Throughout his high school career, he has been involved in the Academic Decathlon, of which this year he is president. He is also co-president of the California Scholarship Federation, among other school clubs and activities. Throughout his high school career, Joseph has been an active volunteer, donating hundreds of hours of service to such activities as the Glendora Public Library, the Sierra Service Project, the Sowing Seeds for Life Foodbank, and the Cold Weather Homeless Shelter.

Jade Wong — Second Alternate

Jade Wong of Hacienda Heights (Los Angeles County) holds the rank of fifth in her class of 435 students at Glen A. Wilson High School in the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District. The high school senior is the district governor of the California-Nevada-Hawaii KIWIN's club, a high school service organization that operates under the umbrella of the Key Club but elects its own officers. She is also senior editor-in-chief of the school yearbook, captain of the varsity tennis team and president of the school's American Red Cross club. Jade has spent hundreds of hours volunteering for such groups as the Community of Hacienda Heights, the City of Hope Hospital, California State University, Fullerton; and for U.S. Representative Ed Royce.

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, May 12, 2020
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