Posted on June 2, 2016.
Ciana Cronin – Arizona Junior State
Ciana Cronin is a senior at University High School in Tucson, Arizona. The summer before her sophomore year, she was offered a full scholarship to the JSAZ Arizona Institute on Leadership and Politics. It was there that she first became introduced to JSA: a community unlike any other she had ever experienced, where freedom of expression and fostering of leadership were not only admired but also sought after. She never looked back. The next year she attended JSAZ Institute again and furthered her passion for JSA by attending Georgetown Summer School. While there, she studied Constitutional Law and met passionate JSAers from all over the nation who inspired her to want to grow and create larger JSA culture in Arizona. That same year she also attended the JSA Montezuma Leadership Summit, Southern California Winter Congress, and held the position of Director of Debate for JSAZ. It was through those experiences that she learned of the complexities of JSA’s cabinet structure and found that her place in JSA was truly at the forefront of leadership. Ciana is known amongst the Arizona JSA-ers as their JSA ‘mom’ and she is proud to be leading Arizona into another year of expansion, progress, and success.
Outside of JSA, Ciana is a working artist who specializes in commissions and henna tattoos. She also works as a waitress, baker, and cater-waiter. When not painting or working, she extends her love for civics and community engagement by acting as an officer in her schools district’s Superintendent Student Advisory Council, an ambassador for her high school, a delegate in her school’s Model United Nations, and an intern for several local congressional and regional campaigns. She is also an alumna of the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Association.
Rohan Marwaha – Mid-Atlantic Junior State
Rohan Marwaha is a rising senior at the Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Technologies. An avid debater, Rohan joined the Junior State of America his freshman year and immediately fell in love with the organization. Since then, Rohan has enjoyed spending his weekends at JSA conferences amongst passionate and intelligent students from across the Mid-Atlantic State. During his sophomore year, Rohan served as the New Jersey Region Director of Public Relations. As part of his role, he secured guest speakers like Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. for New Jersey Regional events. Rohan wanted to allow JSA-ers to have the opportunity to open dialogue with individuals who play a part in determining this nation’s laws.
A graduate of the Montezuma Leadership Institute, Rohan served as the Mid-Atlantic State Director of Expansion during this past year. Leading the largest department on the Mid-Atlantic State Cabinet, Rohan has had a wonderful year. He is happy to report that with record-breaking expansion numbers, convention attendance is growing at an exponential rate. He hopes to see continued expansion into the coming year.
To Rohan, nothing is more valuable than the experience that statesmen and stateswomen have as a part of the Junior State of America. As a chapter president and a cabinet member, Rohan has always operated with the intention of ensuring that every member has the best possible experience with this organization. He plans to lead the Mid-Atlantic State with this mindset.
Outside of JSA, Rohan is very active student and citizen. He serves as the Vice-President of his township’s youth leadership council, the Vice-President of the Model United Nations Club, the Social Media Chair of his township’s Young Democrats organization, the team captain of a nationally ranked Technology Students Association TEAMS contest team, a District Director for the Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council, and he is a recipient of his township’s Mayor’s Youth Award.
Rohan is honored to be serving the people of the Mid-Atlantic State. He looks forward to ensuring that every JSAer has the best possible JSA experience.
Janani Kalyan – Midwest Junior State
Janani Kalyan is a rising senior at Neuqua Valley High School and a member of the District 204 JSA chapter in Naperville, Illinois. When she joined JSA as a freshman, Janani was astounded not only by the passionate discussions and eloquent speakers she found herself amidst, but also by the truly welcoming atmosphere JSA offered. She is confident that the freshman who walked into Spring State that April is not the same person who stands here today. JSA has helped Janani form more educated opinions, forge some of her strongest friendships, and become a better speaker, listener, leader, and stateswoman.
Coming out of Spring State 2014 eager to get involved with Midwest Leadership, Janani was thrilled to be selected as a Debate Agent her sophomore year. She also attended the Montezuma Leadership Summit the following summer, served as a District 204 Chapter Officer Executive, and was the Midwest Lieutenant Governor’s Chief of Staff her junior year. Janani will also be attending JSA Summer School at Georgetown in the summer of 2016.
Outside of JSA, Janani is heavily involved in music, singing in various choirs, and playing the classical Indian flute. She also captains her Science Olympiad team, plays tennis, interns on a congressional campaign, and serves on the Naperville City Council. Additionally, she volunteers regularly through her school’s Music and Chinese Honor Societies and their Physical Education Leadership program. In her free time, she can be found jamming on her ukulele and perfecting the art of waffle-making.
Janani is humbled to serve both a state and an organization she so strongly believes in; she can’t wait to make the Midwest its best as Governor next year.
Kiran Prasad – Northern California Junior State
Surprisingly, Kiran Prasad actively avoided JSA his freshman year. This was mostly because of his “uncool” older brother who was deeply involved in JSA before graduating. Despite his best efforts to avoid the organization, the constant peer pressure of the upperclassmen finally broke him. While at his first Fall State Convention his sophomore year, Kiran’s initial illusion of JSA lifted to reveal a group of educated, aware, politically active students. Amazed that such a group existed and that so many students were so deeply involved in JSA, he was inspired to delve deeper into the organization.
In the spring of 2015, he ran for and was elected Senator of the East Bay Region. After attending the Montezuma Leadership Summit in Los Gatos, he worked closely with the other Senators to rewrite the multiple processes within the Northern California Constitution.
Besides JSA, Kiran participates as a Pre-Trial Attorney on Mock Trial, plays the both the Tenor and Concert ukulele, and listens to all types of music (except country and heavy metal). Kiran will be a senior at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek, California. As NorCal Governor, Kiran plans to increase both convention numbers and quality, but recognizes the need to engage members weekly on a chapter level.
Kamran Parsa – Northeast Junior State
Kamran Parsa is the current Northeast State Governor, and goes to school at Staten Island Technical High School in New York.
Before he became governor, he was the Convention Coordinator and Director of Activities for the Northeast State, and was the Chapter President for his school.
Outside of JSA, Kamran plays tennis and soccer, and is part of his school’s yearbook committee and student government.
Nari Johnson – Ohio River Valley Junior State
As a freshman at her first JSA convention, Nari was quickly overwhelmed by stickers, baked goods, and handshakes from the moment she walked through the door. As part of a chapter that only sent four delegates to Spring State, Nari was intimidated and struck speechless by the effort that so many students had invested in their campaigns. Throughout the weekend, her fear began to fade, but her awe and admiration of the individuals who had sacrificed so much of themselves to serve their state convinced her that JSA was different from any other organization.
Over the past two years, Nari has grown the Dublin Coffman High School chapter from twenty to over eighty members. As Chapter President, Nari strove not only to impact the lives of chapter members, but also those in her school and community. With the support of the amazing statesmen in her chapter, she coordinated the largest chapter conference in recent Ohio River Valley history, helped fundraise for a new chapter to attend an overnight convention, volunteered to bake cookies for patients at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, organized a rally for youth voting rights, and registered over 120 students at her high school to vote in the presidential primaries. This year, Nari also served as the Ohio River Valley Director of Communications. As governor, Nari hopes to continue to improve communications to ensure that all opportunities are available to every statesman.
Outside of JSA, Nari does all she can to serve the children of Columbus. She is an intern at the Ohio Department of Health, where she works closely with epidemiologists to combat Columbus’ high infant mortality rate. Nari is also a teacher at Freedom Schools, a daily summer program that seeks to close the achievement gap for economically disadvantaged children.
Divya Seth – Pacific Northwest Junior State
Searching for an inspirational and interesting club where she could engage in thoughtful political discussion, Divya found herself attending her first JSA meeting. She spent most of her JSA pre-cabinet career involved in local campaigns, registering people to vote on weekends, Naturalization Ceremonies, and at city events. Soon after, she was elected Vice-President of her chapter at Interlake High School in Bellevue WA, and was appointed as the Pacific Northwest Director of Activism. She also attended the Montezuma Leadership Summit and was elected as Head Democratic Whip, and Chapter President. Finally, after 11 weeks of campaigning, Divya was elected as Pacific Northwest Governor. As Governor, Divya is excited to collaborate with other states and the Pacific Northwest student leadership to grow her state, refresh regional and state conventions, and create JSA magic.
The Junior State of America has taught Divya an immeasurable amount about politics and government, but also what it means to be a part of something bigger than oneself. Divya says how it is truly remarkable that, through JSA, students that have common interests but different perspectives are brought together and lasting friendships are made. All of Divya’s peers in JSA continue to inspire her. On the rare occasion that she is not working on anything JSA related, she enjoys engaging in experimental cooking, registering teenagers to vote, hanging out with friends, playing golf, dancing, and adventuring with her mini-labroddle named Leo.
Justin Wittekind – Southern California Junior State
Justin Wittekind is a senior at Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Orange County, California. JSA has become a family for him and, after attending Fall State Los Angeles his freshman year, he was forever captivated by the ability of his peers to effectively engage in high-level political discourse. He was further inspired by how his fellow students were able to form friendships with others of vastly different backgrounds. He felt like he belonged somewhere, and that place was in the Southern California Junior State. After attending a few conferences and several one-day conferences, Justin decided to apply for cabinet, and eventually he worked his way up and was elected Southern Empire Region Mayor, which would change his course in the organization entirely. As Governor, it is his mission to foster his passion for civic engagement and to make the Southern California Junior State greater and more united than ever before.
Justin has had the privilege of attending nine overnight conventions and more than 18 One-Day events. In each, he has found a unique experience that contributes to his overall passion and appreciation for the organization. He is a proud attendee of the 2015 Montezuma Leadership Summit, and this summer he will attend Georgetown Summer School. In his time with the organization, Justin has found a vigor which he will carry with him during his term as Governor.
Beyond JSA, Justin is an avid reader and an amateur classicist. His appreciation for history and Greco-Roman culture has helped and continues to help him in roles of governance. He participates in student government, contributes to his school’s Model United Nations Program, volunteers at his local library, and is a member of Santa Margarita’s Chapter of the National Honor Society. He loves bodysurfing, running, and listening to music, but it seems like JSA never leaves his mind. Above all, this organization has served him, and he finds great honor in the ability to serve it.
Michael Castro – Southeast Junior State
Michael Castro is a senior at Miami Lakes Educational Center in Miami, Florida. Michael joined his school’s JSA Chapter as a freshman when one of his best friends encouraged him to become a member. She told him he would love the people, the debates, and the organization itself. At most of his chapter meetings and at his first conventions, he was too shy to debate or even ask questions. He used to believe that you should never discuss politics, sports, or religion with anyone because it would either lead to a big argument or no one would care enough to listen. As time passed, however, JSA changed his thinking. He started to debate, ask questions, and get involved as much as possible. Now, he loves JSA more than anything.
Within JSA, Michael was selected to be his chapter’s Chief of Staff, the Southeast State Comptroller, and the 2016 Winter Congress Co-Director of Fundraising his junior year. Now, he is the current President of his chapter.
Outside of JSA, Michael serves as an Intern for a U.S. Representative, and a local mayor. He is also the Treasurer of the National Honor Society chapter at his school, mentors local middle school students on fighting apathy and politics, and he assists the elderly at a local nursing home.
Ajay Singh – Texas Junior State
Ajay Singh is a rising senior at Bellaire High School in Bellaire, Texas. Ajay honestly didn’t know what he was getting himself into when he, as a freshman, partnered with a junior in starting up a Texas Junior State of America chapter. He also didn’t know what to expect when he attended Spring State 2014 as the sole delegate for the newly created Bellaire JSA chapter. When the convention ended, Ajay had no doubt in his mind that this was something he wanted to spend the rest of his high school career being a part of. He decided to take the next step in his JSA experience and apply for cabinet, which led to his appointment as a Chapter Internal Affairs Agent for the 2014-15 school year. The summer before his junior year, Ajay studied Constitutional Law at the JSA Georgetown Summer School Session II (which he highly recommends to everyone) and was selected to attend the Montezuma Leadership Summit. This past year, Ajay served as the Director of Chapter Internal Affairs, managing communications and activities of all the chapters of Texas JSA outside of the convention environment, as well as ten of the most hard-working and passionate Chapter Internal Affairs Agents he could have asked for. Additionally, under his leadership, the Bellaire JSA chapter has grown from just one member in 2014 to over 40 members in the past two years. Ajay’s goals largely revolve around creating a more unified Texas Junior State and increasing activity even outside of the convention environment. Ajay hopes to ensure that every member of Texas JSA is able to have the same amazing experience he has had as a member of the Texas Junior State.
Outside of Texas JSA, Ajay is heavily involved in politics, having interned for multiple campaigns. He currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Texas High School Democrats and Membership Director for the High School Democrats of America. Ajay is also involved in National Honor Society and Spanish National Honor Society, is the Vice President of Student Council, the Captain of the Bellaire Policy Debate Team, a member of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Youth Council, and a member of his school’s Academic Challenge team. In his free time, Ajay enjoys reading, listening to music (usually by the Beatles), and singing.