By Megan Alley
A Goshen High School senior is in Lexington, Kentucky this week to take part in an exclusive student congress program.
Lauren Smith, of Loveland, was recently selected to participate in the 2017 Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship National Student Congress.
The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship is a non-profit dedicated to educating a new generation of leaders in the skills of negotiation, dialogue and compromise, according to a press release.
Smith was selected for the program through a competitive application process. During the spring, then high school and college juniors with records of “exceptional” academic and extracurricular achievement were selected for the “once-in-a-lifetime academic and personal development course,” according to a press release.
The high school program will be held from June 4-10, and the college program will be held from June 11-17.
The program is free to participants.
“This is another fabulous class of promising young leaders,” Michael Vetter, executive director of the Henry Clay Center, said in a press release. “We look forward to engaging and inspiring these gifted students and immersing them in the legacy of the ‘the Great Compromiser’, Henry Clay, and the importance of cooperation in public policy and government.”
He added, “Bringing students together from every region of the country is an enriching experience for all the participants.”
During the week, participants will meet with lawmakers, academics, journalists and civic leaders to discuss the practical importance of compromise, constructive engagement and dialogue to resolve conflict and competing interests in a democracy, according to a press release.
Nationally-recognized guest speakers, which in the past have included justices of the Supreme Court, U.S. Speakers of the House, governors and U.S. Senators, will engage in seminars with the students, followed by a student debate on a current topic in the Old State Capitol in nearby Frankfort, Kentucky.
Smith applied for the program because she thought it would be a great opportunity.
“I wanted to meet individuals who, like me, were interested in compromise and becoming great leaders,” she said in an email. “I wanted to be able to find and create leadership characteristics in myself.”
She added, “It’s amazing to be accepted into such an esteemed program..
Smith is most looking forward to expanding her skills as a leader and meeting other people who are interested in similar topics.
“I can’t wait to meet current leaders who put their skills to use everyday,” she noted.
Smith, who is planning for a career as an engineer, either chemical or environmental, explained how the program would help her in her future endeavors.
“I think this program will be extremely useful in my last year of high school and college, and long into my future. I think the skills I will learn and hone in this program will help be a more effective leader and help me reach compromise in any group I lead in the future,” she said.
When asked how she plans to apply what she learns to the highly politically charged atmosphere of today, she responded, “I think that typically teenagers are seen as very extreme thinkers and I hope to use what I learn to help my peers understand a more neutral side to politics and related issues. I hope to make others see the effectiveness in compromise and objectivity, rather than extremity.”