Kealakehe High Student Selected for United States Senate Youth Program

January 16, 2018, 11:30 AM HST
* Updated January 18, 3:21 PM
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The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) announces that high school students Mr. Sean Patrick Beattie Callahan and Ms. Maya Kiana Gee will join Sen. Brian Schatz and Sen. Mazie Hirono in representing Hawai‘i in the nation’s capital during the 56th annual USSYP Washington Week, to be held Saturday March 3, through Saturday, March 10, 2018. Sean Callahan of Honolulu and Maya Gee of Kailua-Kona, were selected from among the state’s top student leaders to be part of the 104 national student delegation who will also each receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study.

L to R: Maya Gee and Lily Katz. PC: Hawai‘i DOE


The USSYP was created by Senate Resolution 324 in 1962 and has been sponsored by the senate and fully funded by The Hearst Foundations since inception. Originally proposed by Sens. Kuchel, Mansfield, Dirksen and Humphrey, the impetus for the program as stated in senate testimony is to increase young Americans’ understanding of the interrelationships of the three branches of government, learn the caliber and responsibilities of federally elected and appointed officials, and emphasize the vital importance of democratic decision making not only for America but for people around the world.

Each year this extremely competitive merit-based program brings 104 of the most outstanding high school students — two from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity — to Washington, D.C. for an intensive week-long study of the federal government and the people who lead it. 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. In addition to the program week, The Hearst Foundations provide each student with a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs. Transportation and all expenses for Washington Week are also provided by The Hearst Foundations; as stipulated in Senate Resolution 324, no government funds are utilized.

Sean Callahan is a senior at ‘Iolani High School and serves as the president of the ‘Iolani Young Democrats. He was appointed as the editor in chief, managing and copy editor of the school newspaper, and is an executive board member of ‘Iolani Model United Nations. He also aids his community as the vice president of the Raiders for Wounded Warriors. Sean is currently an intern with Sen. Brian Schatz. He plans to go to college and serve his country through military service or government work.


Maya Kiana Gee currently serves on the Hawai‘i State Board of Education as the student representative and holds a leadership position on the Hawai‘i State Student Council. A senior at Kealakehe High School, she has served as the captain of the Model United Nations team and is active with the National Honor Society and Lifeplan Institute, a nonprofit helping youth prepare for the future. Born and raised in Hawai‘i, Maya has traveled throughout Asia, and taught English in Vietnam as part of the Pacific Asian Affairs Council. She intends to double major in political science and psychology with a minor in education studies.


Chosen as alternates to the 2018 program were Ms. Sydnie C. Ito, a resident of Honolulu, who attends Punahou School and Ms. Lily S. Katz, a resident of Wailuku, who attends Henry Perrine Baldwin High School.

Delegates and alternates are selected by the state departments of education nationwide and the District of Columbia and Department of Defense Education Activity, after nomination by teachers and principals. The chief state school officer for each jurisdiction confirms the final selection. This year’s Hawai‘i delegates and alternates were designated by Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto, Superintendent of Education.

While in Washington the student delegates attend meetings and briefings with senators, members of the House of Representatives, congressional staff, the president, a justice of the supreme court, leaders of cabinet agencies, an ambassador to the United States and senior members of the national media. The students will also tour many of the national monuments and several museums and they will stay at the historic Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C.


In addition to outstanding leadership abilities and a strong commitment to volunteer work, the student delegates rank academically in the top one percent of their states among high school juniors and seniors. Now more than 5,500 strong, alumni of the program continue to excel and develop impressive qualities that are often directed toward public service. Among the many distinguished alumni are Sen. Susan Collins, the first delegate to be elected to the Senate; Sen. Cory Gardner, the first delegate to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and the second to be elected to the Senate; former Chief Judge Robert Henry, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit; former Ambassador to West Germany Richard Burt, and former presidential advisors Thomas “Mack” McLarty and Karl Rove. Additional notables include Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie, former Lt. Gov. of Idaho David Leroy, former President of the Progressive Policy Institute Robert Shapiro, military officers, members of state legislatures, foreign service officers, top congressional staff, healthcare providers and university educators.

Members of the U. S. Senate Youth Program 2018 annual Senate Advisory Committee are: Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, Republican Co-Chair; Sen. Angus S. King, Jr. of Maine, Independent Co-Chair; Bipartisan Senate Advisory Members: John Barrasso, M.D. (R-WY), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Joe Manchin III (D-WV), Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Brian Schatz (D-HI). Each year, the Honorary Co-Chairs of the program are the vice president of the United States and the Senate majority and minority leaders. For more information please see online.

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