OGDEN — Two St. Joseph Catholic High School students recently had the opportunity to learn more about the democratic process. Katie Sugiyama and Lluvia Sanchez were chosen by the Catholic Woman’s League to receive partial scholarships to Girls State, which was held June 3-8 at Weber State University.
Girls State is sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary, an organization that works to serve veterans and military families in the United States. The event is designed to teach participants leadership skills, to educate them about the democratic process and to promote responsible citizenship and love for God and country.
“Girls State is valuable because it teaches leadership; it teaches citizenship. It helps form our education about patriotism, our country and its values,” CWL Girls State liaison Alexa Maland said.
At the weeklong event, high school girls who have completed their junior year are assigned to mock cities and political parties where they participate in the democratic process, launch campaigns and run for office, along with drafting and debating legislation. They also earn three university credit hours in political science.
During the week, Katie and Lluvia joined close to 300 other girls from across Utah in this exercise in democracy. Both said it was a “really fun” experience and that they learned a lot.
Katie ran for Girls Nation senate and while she was not elected, she said it was a great experience. Authoring and proposing a bill also taught her a lot, she said.
“My roommate and I stayed up until 1:30 a.m. bouncing ideas off each other and proof-reading each other’s bills,” she said. “My bill did not go far, but hers made it to the ballot.”
“Even though Girls State is geared toward teaching about the political world, all the girls were so nice and so supportive, I made a lot of friends I will continue to talk to for a long time,” Katie said.
Lluvia, who was elected to the position of city attorney, had an equally positive experience.
“I really enjoyed learning about government and experiencing running for office,” she said.
As city attorney, along with a partner she defended a girl who, in a mock trial, was charged with texting and driving and endangerment.
It was an eye-opening experience, she said. “It was very difficult to get her off — we didn’t.”
Lluvia was also elected as a county delegate and voted in county elections.
“It was great to learn about government and myself as a person,” she said. “I became more confident over the course of the week.”
Both girls have been ambassadors at St. Joseph’s and have performed hundreds of service hours. Katie has served as the captain of the varsity soccer team for the past two years. Lluvia volunteers at her local library and at her parish.
Katie is a member of Holy Family Catholic Church. Lluvia is a St. Rose of Lima parishioner.
Lluvia is considering becoming an attorney. Katie, whose father recently retired as an Air Force colonel, plans to join the Air Force after high school.
Generally, the Catholic Woman’s League funds students of any denomination from Catholic high schools, Maland said. However, if there are Catholic girls who attend public schools who would like to go to Girls State, she recommends talking to the CWL to see if any support might be available.
“We encourage as many as possible to apply,” she said.
For information about the CWL Girls State scholarship, contact Maland at 801-703-6456.