January of 2011 will always be a happy memory for Dina, a Young Scholar from San Jose, California. Not only did the 16-year-old honor student spend the second half of her junior year of high school in Washington, D.C. as a Congressional Page, but just a few days after arriving in the Nation’s Capitol she had the opportunity to meet President Barack Obama before the State of the Union address.
How do you top that? In Dina’s case it’s not a matter of “topping” anything. Each day is a special one for this young woman from the Bay Area whose dreams go beyond meeting the Chief Executive. Her recurring dream is to become a physician and eventually open a free clinic for the poor and destitute in her parents’ native land, Eritrea.
But that clinic in Eritrea is far in the future. To fulfill her dream Dina knows that each day she must work to prepare herself to reach that goal . . . coursework, volunteer activities, taking responsibility, and in the case of her Congressional Page duties, dealing daily with America’s legislative leaders.
The Foundation recognized Dina’s potential early on. An honor student at Kipp San Jose Collegiate High School, she thrives on challenges and enjoys being a leader.
Dina has found her community amongst the Young Scholars: “My number one top experience I have had as a Young Scholar has been being able to attend summer enrichment programs; it has been such an amazing experience for me summer after summer to be able to travel somewhere new and learn about a new topic and best of all network with other kids who share my interests.”
But right now in spring 2011, life is a whirlwind of activity for the young Californian as she maneuvers through the Halls of Congress and the Congressional Office Buildings rushing messages between House Members and their offices.
Often, she says, her parents back in San Jose will be watching the live Congressional debates on the House Floor on C-Span, and are thrilled when Dina appears on camera. That experience is just one more “surreal” event in Dina’s life.
As the semester winds down and she returns to California for her senior year of high school, she’ll take those wonderful memories of Capitol Hill with her . . . the friends she made in the Congressional Page dormitory, the experiences of living in the most powerful city in the world, but most importantly knowing she was part of making Democracy happen.