WASHINGTON, D.C. — When Walter Jackson was asked during a recent visit to the nation’s capital when he planned to run for president, he chuckled.
While the Scotland High School senior is not ready to announce his candidacy just yet, he was treated like a Washington power broker as he toured Washington through the U.S. Senate Youth Program last month.
During the week-long visit, Jackson got a chance to meet President Barack Obama at the White House, hear from a Supreme Court justice and be interviewed on C-SPAN, the network that televises many proceedings of the federal government, as well as other public affairs.
“I would have to say my most memorial moment would be going to the White House and meeting the president,” Jackson told C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb during a show called “Q&A” that featured students in the youth program. “The best part was just watching him come down the hallway because you always see that on television, but to actually see it in person was pretty incredible.”
On the program, which first aired on Sunday, Jackson said that Obama seemed thinner in person.
“He is tall, his ears look the same…” Jackson said as his fellow students laughed. “Still just to be in a president’s presence whether you agree with his polices or not is really incredible.”
Lamb also asked Jackson what year he planned to run for president.
“I don’t know,” Jackson said with a laugh.
Jackson and the 103 other youth delegates were also able to have one-on-one conversations with several notable individuals, including U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, German Ambassador to the United States Peter Wittig and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The youth program, according to its website, “is an intensive week of unparalleled educational activities in the nation’s capital designed to deepen the student delegates’ understanding of the federal government and give them direct access to those who lead it.” The students are selected from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity program.
The Hearst Foundations provided each student with a $10,000 college scholarship with the hope the student will pursue course work in government, history and public affairs. There are no government funds used.
The Senate Youth Program was created in 1962, has had more than 5,000 participants, and is privately funded by the Hearst Foundations. Participants generally rank academically in the top one percent of their states. In addition, they must show outstanding leadership abilities and a strong commitment to public service.
Distinguished alumni of the U.S. Senate Youth Program include Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former U.S. Court of Appeals Justice Robert Henry and Ambassador to West Germany Richard Burt.
“I’m grateful to the Hearst Foundations for giving me that opportunity,” said Jackson, who plans to double major in philosophy and political science. He is also a semi-finalist for the Morehead-Cain class of 2020.
To see the see the C-SPAN interview, go to www.c-span.org/video/?406058-1/qa-us-senate-youth-program&start=3415&transcriptQuery=us.
The segment with Jackson starts at the 3:17 mark.
Reach Scott Witten at 910-506-3023