Piedra Vista student heading to D.C. for U.S. Senate youth program

John R. Moses
Farmington Daily Times
Katherine Taite Broten

FARMINGTON — A local teen will be in the heart of Washington, D.C., politics for a week as part of a scholarship program designed to teach about government and citizenship.

Piedra Vista High senior Katherine Taite Broten will attend the United States Senate Youth Program in March.

She and David Dehlin Fillmore Jr. of Alamogordo will be the state’s representatives in the Capitol the first week of March.

The program bills itself as an intensive week-long study of the federal government and the people who work in it. Previous program graduates include Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, former presidential adviser Karl Rove and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Broten, who turned 18 in November, told The Daily Times she heard about the youth program from a friend in Carlsbad who participated last year.

She said she’s looking forward to meeting the other students in the program and bringing what she has learned back home — which may come in handy, as she is the student body president.

The scholarship part makes the program attractive, as well — each student gets $10,000 toward undergraduate studies.

“You can always use money for college,” she said.

She may also get a chance to further check out one of her two college choices, Georgetown University, while she’s there. She’s already been accepted. Her future areas of study may be public policy or government.

"Katie will be experiencing a very unique opportunity to extend her interest and passion in student leadership at the national level,"  Piedra Vista High School Principal Dave Golden said Monday via email. "The senior is a young leader with a high level of energy, motivation and commitment to learning. The intensive educational experience will provide the student body president the opportunity to observe operations of government at the federal level."

The students will attend briefings and have meetings with senators and House members, as well as with a U.S. Supreme Court justice, and, according to the press release, even the president. 

On top of that, there are events planned with a U.S. ambassador, congressional staff members, leaders of cabinet agencies and senior members of the national media.

“The overall mission of the program is to help instill within each class of USSYP student delegates more profound knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service,” the program said in a press release.

The Hearst Foundations cover travel and other expenses for students drawn from each state, and the Department of Defense Education Activity and the District of Columbia. This year, the delegation has 104 participants.

The foundation’s $10,000 grant is meant for undergraduate college scholarship “with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs,” the release said.

No public money is involved.

Broten is no stranger to volunteerism and hard work.

On top of her work in student government, she has served as a San Juan Medical Foundation volunteer, the press release said.

Broten has also volunteered for Piñon Hills Community Church, and has served on the Mayor's Teen Advisory Council and been involved in the New Mexico Public Education Department's Student Leadership Network. She also has been a representative of the Better Angels Debate Society.

She is a student athlete on Piedra Vista's track and cross country teams.

She has collected some awards off the field, as well, winning the Best Debater title in the National History Academy and the Women's History Award from the New Mexico Department of the Humanities.

She will learn among some of the most accomplished students in the nation. The process for acceptance in the D.C. program includes a nomination process and selection by the state schools officer for each jurisdiction — in this case, former New Mexico Secretary of Education Christopher Ruszkowski. 

Eligible students must be in the top 1 percent academically among high school juniors and seniors.

Serving as alternates in the 2019 program are Vera Luisa Berger of Albuquerque and Tacoma Matthew Horn of Rio Rancho.