Calera native attends U.S. Senate Youth Program

Published 3:23 pm Monday, March 27, 2023

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By LIZZIE BOWEN | Staff Writer

PELHAM – Calera resident Stanley Stoutamire spent March 4-11 in Washington D.C. as one of two delegates from Alabama to partake in the U.S. Senate Youth Program.

The United States Youth Program selects some of the best students in the country to attend “Washington Week” where they can interact with important leaders in the country. The students are selected by the coordinators of the program.

“I had no idea this program existed,” Stoutamire said. “I was looking for ways to make college a little more affordable, and I saw on a scholarship website that there was something called the United States Senate Youth Program. I read about it, and I started looking into it more and more. I realized that this was something I really wanted to be a part of.”

Stoutamire reached out to a coordinator to get an application for the program. After filling out the application, he sent it back in and was selected as a semi-finalist. Stoutamire interviewed at the Civil Right Institution in Birmingham.

Stoutamire said the questions ranged from: “Why do you want to go to Washing D.C.?” to very specific policy questions. On Dec. 1, he found out he had been selected as a delegate.

“In order to prep for the interview process, I tried to stay up to date on what is going on in our country and in the world,” Stoutamire said. “I wanted to make sure I knew what our law makers are doing, what kind of exports does Alabama put out. I wanted to have a clearer understanding of Alabama’s role in the union and the specific kinds of debates going on in Congress.”

Stoutamire was at home and on his phone when he saw an email pop up on his phone, informing him that he had been selected as a delegate.

“I opened it up, and I celebrated,” Stoutamire said. “It was a great night. It was really fun.”

The Shelby County Democratic Party held a meeting in which Stoutamire was a guest speaker to share his experiences.

“It was the first time for me to give an account of what happened during Washing Week,” Stoutamire said. “So, having that opportunity was really amazing. One of my biggest takeaways from Washing Week was how many amazing experiences there are like this out there.”

Stoutamire hopes that word travels about the opportunities and event he has taken part in so that others can know about opportunities such as this one.

“I want other kids to understand they can have the opportunity to do these things and go to these places,” Stoutamire said.

Stoutamire talked about being in close proximity to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayoy. He listened closely to all the inspiring things she had to say.

“She was less than ten feet away from me,” Stoutamire said. “That was really moving and hearing her talk about what it means to keep going and what it means to persevere even when you feel like you don’t belong at a table or a specific room. That message got carried throughout the week, as well as not having to know what your life is going to look like at 18.”

Messages like this inspired and motivated Stoutamire to push forward in life. He said that other messages that were given were in regards to sustaining a good family life even when pursuing your goals and ambitions.

“I think one of the most powerful things anyone said to us throughout the week was, “’Real time with your family is not wasted time,’” Stoutamire said.

Stoutamire also recalls listening to United States Senator Katie Britt talk about her journey to getting where she is today.

“She told us that we were the future,” Stoutamire said. “She told us to never let anyone tell us that a table wasn’t for us. Katie Britt is a trailblazer, so to hear that coming from her was really powerful.”

Stoutamire will graduate from John Carroll Catholic School in a few months, and his journey will continue. His options are very open in terms of college and future education. No matter what, he will always strive to inspire.