Hollister High School student Rachael Sutton will be going into her senior year with an abundance of new knowledge and a special insight into what her future could hold, thanks to a week spent at the American Legion Auxiliary Missouri Girls State.
Held June 23-29 at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Missouri Girls State gives a select few young women the opportunity to study levels of government in a nonpartisan political learning experience. While there, Sutton received a hands-on educational opportunity, which is designed to instruct tomorrow’s leaders in the privileges and duties of responsible citizenship, according to a press release from the American Legion Auxiliary.
Sutton was nominated by her Government, Chemistry and English teachers to attend, which she says was because of her often discussed plans to one day become a member of the Missouri House of Representatives.
“So they thought this would be a great program. I definitely got a lot out of it. I got to talk to a whole lot of political leaders, mostly women, because it is Girls State,” said Sutton. “But I got to hear their side of the political spectrum and what they go through everyday in the state of Missouri. So I thought it was super cool to witness it all first hand.”
During their week of Girls State, attendees are assigned to a mythical political party, for which they can campaign, hold rallies, debate and vote to elect city, county and state officials. Sutton said she was assigned to the Federalist Party and was even elected as the Federalist Secretary.
Following her week at Girls State as an elected official, Sutton said she feels like she has a better understanding of what its going to take to get into the House of Representatives.
“A lot of (the representatives) spoke on how they became part of the government and basically their lifestyle before and how they got into it,” said Sutton. “I feel like since I’ve been taking a lot of government classes through the school, and planning to go to college for it, I feel like I’ll have a step up just because I’ve always wanted to do it. Rather then they decided later on that ‘Hey, I should go into the government.’ So I feel like going to Missouri Girls State really helped me understand that I need to get onboard now, if I want to do it younger.”
For any students nominated to participate in Girls State in the future and debating on whether or not they should attend, Sutton explained it can be a little overwhelming at times, but also a great experience.
“Girls State is very overwhelming the first three days that you’re there. You go to a lot of assemblies, and you meet a whole bunch of new people who you’ve never seen before,”said Sutton. “But I’d say just stick it through, because the last four days I was there it was super fun. I enjoyed my classes. Its just whenever you’re given 120 pages of information you feel overwhelmed … that goes away pretty fast and then you start relaxing and getting to know everyone.”
While at Girls State, Sutton said she also had the opportunity to take an international business class, meet Missouri Governor Mike Parson and discovered something she thought she could bring back with her to Hollister before she graduates.
“There’s something called Honor Flight and I was hoping to raise money to send a veteran on an Honor Flight, which is where you send them to Washington D.C.,” Sutton said. “I was thinking that maybe I could get the school to get on board with raising money, because Missouri Girls State, that’s something they do as well. I thought that was super cool.”
Following graduation, Sutton said she plans to attend Ozark Technical Community College in Springfield for two years and then transfer to the University of Missouri in Columbia to complete her bachelors degree in Political Science.