Sens. Mazie K. Hirono and Brian Schatz have announced the two students who have been selected as delegates to the 51st Annual U.S. Senate Youth Program (USSYP) that will be held March 9-16 in Washington, D.C.
Keagan Sakai-Kawada of Hilo and Michael Kikukawa of Molokai were chosen from across the state to be part of the group of 104 student delegates who will attend the program’s 51st annual Washington Week.
Each year, 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 of the 104 student delegates with a $5,000 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; no government funds are utilized.
Keagan Sakai-Kawada attends Waiakea High School and serves as the Hawaii State Student Council chairperson. For three years, he has represented students from the Big Island on the HSSC, working with the Board of Education and student councils from across the state.
During his sophomore year, Sakai-Kawada served as the Division 22 Key Club lt. governor, overseeing 23 Key Clubs and 1,500 members from throughout Hawaii.
In his junior year, he led the creation of a children’s storybook, “The ABCs of Service,” encouraging youth to take a role in serving others.
Presently, Sakai-Kawada is the Waiakea High Student Association secretary, California-Nevada-Hawaii Key Club Member Recognition chair, as well as a member of the East Hawaii Kiwanis Family for seven years.
Sakai-Kawada is the son of Ron Kawada and Toni Sakai-Kawada.
Michael Kikukawa attends Molokai High School and serves as the student government president and the HSSC vice chair. He is also involved in the Maui District Student Council, District 50 Leo Council, National Honor Society, Akamai Finance Academy, Leo Club, and the Molokai Earth Preservation Organization.
Kikukawa plans to pursue a career in law or political science as an undergraduate at Harvard College.
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.
While in Washington, the student delegates will attend meetings and briefings with senators and congressional staff, the president, a justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies, an ambassador to the United States and top 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.