The American Legion Auxiliary created a program that began in 1937 called Girls State. Young women that participate in the program become knowledgeable of the democratic process. They are also taught more in depth how our republic form of government works at the state and national levels.
The program can be fundamental for young women. It can help girls develop leadership skills, confidence and an understanding of the government process from hands-on experience. The young women that go get to form their own cities, which are named after past governors of Utah and run for city and county offices all the way up to governor. They also run and are elected to the house of representatives, senator and more. One of the girls even becomes Utah’s governor.
Girls State lasts about a week; it is six days from when they arrive to graduation. Transportation is the young women’s responsibility, but carpools are orchestrated. If the girls are able to drive themselves to the program their keys are then handed to the security guard for the remainder of the week so that they aren’t allowed to go anywhere on their own. If any of the young women make the decision to drive on their own, their parking passes are paid for. The fee for the program is $350, which covers food costs and where they will be staying.
While at the program the girls stay in the dormitories for their particular cities. It is an opportunity to give the girls a full college experience by allowing them to see what it is like to have a roommate and share their space.
The Girls State program can be very rewarding and has a lot of great opportunities. For participating, the girls are awarded three political science college credits. Scholarships are also awarded at the program. There is a special Samsung scholarship that awards $20,000 to any college in America. Weber State also hands out scholarships that are anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. Last year, 11 girls attended the program and every one of them received a scholarship.
The program is geared toward patriotism, government understanding and bringing girls together. When they arrive and are given their particular city, they end up with girls that they did not begin the program with, so they are able to meet a lot of new people. Friendships and bonds have to be formed during the program.
“It shows a really good, positive constructive competition for the girls, but there’s really no hard feelings when they lose,” states ALA member Stacey Campbell.
To qualify for the program, the young women must be a junior in high school and interested in government and current events. Also, a C-average must be maintained through school. If you qualify and are interested, you may contact Campbell, American Legion Auxiliary member, at 435-630-4692. There is then an interview process through the ALA.
If you are chosen for the program but are unable to provide the $350 fee, there are sponsorships that assist in paying for the program and can come up with half of the fee, or whole if needed. If there are new companies that would be interested in sponsoring this program, please contact Campbell at the number mentioned previously.
Interviews for this year’s Girls State are going to be held on the Feb. 1. Girls have been sent to the program from this area since the day that it begin in Utah. The ALA has been a part of Carbon County for 93 years this year. The ALA hopes to take anywhere from 12 to 15 girls with them.