South Salem High School senior Kudzai Kapurura and West Salem High School senior Justin Thach met with Senator Jeff Merkely earlier this month in Washington, D.C.

They were in our nation’s capital because these two students were selected by Governor Kate Brown to represent Oregon at the 57th Annual United States Senate Youth Program Washington Week from March 2-9, 2019.

While in Washington, Kudzai and Justin attended meetings with members of Congress, with Congressional staff, met the President of the United States, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies, an ambassador to the United States and senior members of the national press.

The United States Senate Youth Program is a unique educational experience for outstanding high school students interested in pursuing careers in public service.

In addition to their all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, Kudzai and Justin will be awarded $10,000 college scholarships for undergraduate studies.

Kudzai is a first-generation American with parents from Zimbabwe. She is a trilingual, written word poet, and most importantly, a leader. As class president, Kudzai’s unique background has allowed her to serve with empathy. She also serves as a student advisor to the State Board of Education.

Justin founded “Young Asian Leaders of America” (YALA), an organization dedicated to connecting the Asian-American community through service, education, identity, exploration and empowerment. Justin started YALA after noticing a lack of Asian-American representation in mainstream culture, and has expanded the organization to include chapters across the U.S.

Congratulations to Kudzai and Justin for achieving this monumental honor. Salem-Keizer Public Schools is proud to be represented by such bright and talented students!

Pictured from left: School Board Chairperson Kathy Goss; West Salem High School Principal Jim Miller; students Justin Thach and Kudzai Kapurura; and South Salem High School Principal Lara Tiffin.