Patrick Flint was introduced to JSA by his AP government teacher. While he did not have any special interest in the organization, he was drawn in by the welcoming personality of the members. Many would soon become his best friends. When asked his most vivid memory of JSA, Patrick recalled, "A JSA debate at my last Spring Congress when I was debating for a bill to legalize prostitution. I found it so vivid because it was my last convention and I was really just trying to take it all in and I just loved the questions people were asking as I tried to make my case for a bill I was voluntold to do.” As he heads off to the University of Arizona this fall, Patrick is confident that his JSA experience will help him make the transition seamlessly. “In college, I plan to be active in some kind of organization and JSA is the only reason I will be doing that, because of how much I was able to do, how much I have grown, and how much I was able to do for the people. JSA has taught me to pursue the things that truly make me happy and to work on a team and as a leader.”
Brian Carlos first learned about JSA when he attended its highly competitive Freshman Scholars program at Princeton. By his own admission, he returned from summer school excited because JSA had given him a voice and a place where he could share his opinion on important issues. He served as director of Summer School for JSA Southeast mentoring and sharing his own experience at JSA Summer School with other members. This past year, he served as secretary of his school’s JSA Chapter and will this year serve as lieutenant governor for the Southeast. With future plans to run for elected office, JSA has been the place for Brian to practice the important skills of leadership. “I enjoy engaging in civil discourse with others who also share my same passion for politics,” said Brian when asked what he enjoys most about being in JSA. Additionally, he’s convinced JSA is where he will “make friendships that will last me a lifetime.”
Cecelia McDermott jumped in with both feet when she first learned about JSA through an online ad. She launched research into the organization and was intrigued by the student-run nature of JSA. She founded her school’s chapter at Appleton North High School in Wisconsin in 2017. Since that time, Cecelia has served as chapter president and director of expansion for her JSA state “helping new chapters grow to have the same JSA experiences that I’ve had.” This year, Cecelia was selected as statesperson for the Midwest as a result of her unwavering energy and commitment to spreading JSA to areas where there are no Chapters and demonstrating to other JSA members the values of leadership, accountability, and respect. When asked what she enjoyed most about JSA, Cecelia said, “Everyone was so intelligent and welcoming, and it created a very supportive environment.” As she heads off to college, Cecelia recalls the impact of JSA. “I want to be an attorney in the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, and JSA has taught me to eloquently present my views on political topics while remaining respectful to others. JSA has also taught me to “just go for it,” and I’m now happy to take chances in order to reach my goals.”
Ohio River Valley
Reilly Johnson learned about JSA during summer camp, and was immediately sold on the idea and returned to her high school committed to bringing it to her campus. “I loved the idea of high schoolers like me getting out there and actually doing things,” Reilly said when she learned about JSA. She successfully started a chapter at Hamilton High School and introduced her peers to a year of civic and political engagement that earned the Chapter second place for JSA’s top award, the National Civic Impact Award. Reilly served in several positions in her Chapter as well as the state. She was the founding president of the Hamilton High Chapter and served a second term as co-president. She also served as a debate specialist, before she was appointed the director of debate and chief of staff for the Ohio River Valley state cabinet. During her two years in JSA, Reilly was well known for her energy, reliability, and passion for politics and civics. “In JSA, there’s this beautiful community of friends, acquaintances, and strangers that all are interested in doing civic good. I have loved every moment spent with them, whether in opposition during a debate or cooperation during Cabinet work,” Reilly recalled of her JSA experience.
Heliqiong Sun admits that she was lured to her first JSA meeting by pizza. But she returned each week because of the topics and the friends she made. “What inspired me to stay in JSA, more specifically, is the message that JSA sends within the younger generation - youth civic engagement, and emphasis upon how important it is to be involved in politics starting at a younger age.” Heliqiong served in numerous capacities within her JSA Chapter -- as publicity director, secretary and eventually as co-president. She also served as director of activism in the Pacific Northwest state cabinet. In recalling her most vivid JSA memory, Heliqiong said, “Winter Congress my sophomore year was the first time my bill passed through both full house and full senate, and my bill was on traffic safety laws - or more specifically, roundabouts. The memories I gained from the roundabouts bill will forever be ones I cherish.” Heading off to Barnard College, Heliqiong shares her favorite political quote from President Dwight Eisenhower “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.”
Julian Madera was introduced to the Junior State by his brother and found a home in his freshman year. “I fell in love with the organization after Spring State of my freshman year, where I saw so many of my JSA role models get elected. The rush of a live election, the discourse of the electoral debates, and the satisfaction of seeing a peer earn their rightful spot are truly what made me catch the JSA bug,” said Julian. He was active in his school chapter at Carnegie Vanguard High School and also served on the Texas state cabinet as director of expansion. Julian said he enjoyed immensely “giving the opportunity to participate in JSA to schools across the region. Whether it was creating a scholarship to offer the amazing convention experiences to heavily underserved expansion contacts, or spreading the organization to small rural towns, it all seemed worth it in the end.” Julian heads off to Brandeis University this fall to pursue a double major in Economics and International Relations/Global Studies.