Lake Mary Prep senior Mimi Chen journeys to the State of the Union address on the strength of her written word
Lora Brooks, the AP government teacher at Lake Mary Preparatory School, left it up to her students. She told them about the Congressional District State of the Union Essay Contest, but she didn’t require any of her pupils to participate.
The prize? A round-trip ticket and night’s lodging for the student and a chaperone to attend February’s State of the Union address as the guest of Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy.
A few in Lora’s class did decide to enter, writing their essays about themes of civic engagement among America’s youth. Senior Mimi Chen wrote her essay exploring political divisions and the importance of young people getting involved.
When Congresswoman Murphy showed up in the government class one day, everyone knew something special was about to happen, they just didn’t know who would accompany her to the nation’s capital.
Mimi, as it turns out, was the big winner.
So Mimi and her mother, Sharry San, traveled to Washington on February 4. The two were able to take part in some tours and sightseeing before Mimi and the congresswoman heard the State of the Union live and in person in the House chamber.
Amid the pomp and circumstance and TV cameras, current events meant that the night carried a certain tone, and Mimi could feel it.
“There was a lot of tension in the room,” she says. “But it was really great to see all the lawmakers who I recognize from TV, like the president and Speaker of the House.”
It also meant that themes in Mimi’s essay were even more relevant.
As part of her essay reads, “...by actively working with others to solve community challenges, or even an extensive, global issue, the younger generation will become well prepared to be active, civically engaged, global citizens.”
Young people, Mimi says, are less likely to adhere to a political party and more likely to be registered as independents.
“We’re now seeking both sides of an issue,” she explains. “We’re researching and not just voting down the party line, which will keep our leaders more accountable.”
When Mimi isn’t touring D.C. or writing essays, she’s golfing. Mimi captained the Lake Mary Prep varsity golf team that won a State Championship this past season.
Mimi and her family immigrated to the United States when she was seven. A National AP Scholar, she plans to major in political science and philosophy and then tackle law school.
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