Girls State program develops leaders

Wow. It’s summer vacation already. I can hardly believe it. Perhaps that’s because I literally have not sat down and relaxed once since school got out.

While this may upset many teenagers of my generation, I really haven’t minded it because I know that my time has been well spent. See, I’ve just returned home after spending one of the most life-changing weeks of my life at American Legion Auxiliary Minnesota Girls State.

American Legion Auxiliary Minnesota Girls State is a program, funded by the American Legion Auxiliary, for high school students who have completed their junior year. Participants are selected to attend a seven-day mock government program where they learn about civics and American government in a fast-paced, interactive program of campaigning, debating, voting and electing mock local and state leaders.

I have to admit that I first thought Girls State was a state comprised of all girls and, to be honest, that absolutely terrified me. Three hundred and forty-three girls gathered together for one week talking about politics sounded like the perfect recipe for disaster, but the funny thing was it wasn’t a disaster; it was amazing.

I’ve always known that politics was the route I wanted to take as far as a future career path is concerned, but it wasn’t until I was elected mayor of the lovely, imaginary city of Wa-Wa-Say by girls who barely even knew me that I was completely confident that it was something at which I could succeed. They saw something in me, a certain "je ne sais quoi," that I didn’t see until the end of the week. Nothing is more flattering and empowering than being told and trusted that you will be a great leader.


It was often said throughout the week that the purpose of Girls State was to expose young girls to what politics are really like and what the future government will have in store. If that is so, then in the future, the government will be full of strong, independent, young women. As of right now, only 17 percent of all senators are women, but I’m very confident that that statistic will be changing in the near future after seeing the fire and passion in so many girls I met at Girls State.

However, Girls State is more than just voting girls I barely know into positions in a mock government. For me, Girls State did amazing things. It turned an "awkward girl" into a confident and independent woman. It turned complete strangers into lifelong friends. It made even the most annoying duck alarm clock something I’ll never forget. It inspired me to serve our veterans. It made me eternally grateful for the American Legion and all it does. It made me a member of something so much larger than myself. It opened my eyes to a fascinating world that I can’t wait to help change for the better someday.

It made for a week I’ll never forget.

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