From Meridian’s STEM Academy lab to the legislative floor, Ella Calvert is getting her start in public service at Capitol Hill.
Calvert was selected to participate in the United States Senate Youth Program. Only two student leaders from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity are selected to participate in the program.
“When I found out I was so excited,” Calvert said. “I get to go to Washington D.C. and meet these influential people. It’s like a dream, I can’t believe it’s real.”
After learning about the Senate Youth Program through another student at her dance studio, Calvert was determined to apply for it herself. She became student council president at Stillwater High School and used resources at Meridian to help her prepare for the interview.
“I was able to set up a mock interview through Meridian’s Career Planning Center before I interviewed for the program,” Calvert said. “The resources at Meridian have really helped me.”
For the application they asked students to write about an issue the student would want to present to Congress.
“In engineering you learn to come up with the best solutions to problems,” Calvert said, “and you can take that analytical thinking and apply it to government.”
In her essay, Calvert chose to write about the benefits of a high speed railway in the United States. The topic interested her after a few of her STEM courses and she was able to discuss it further with an Oklahoma legislator when she paged at the state capitol last spring.
While Calvert originally planned a career in architecture, she has since decided a career in politics or public service might be in her future.
“I’ve always been interested in politics,” Calvert said. “When I was younger, I used to take my dad’s TIME Magazines and read the articles.”
She now plans to pursue economics and political science and eventually go to law school with the end goal of working in government.
Meridian is part of a network of 29 Career and Technology Education centers across the state on 56 technology campuses. Both Oklahoma students selected for the Senate Youth Program attend CareerTech centers.
“We have a strong CareerTech system,” Calvert said. “It gives students so many options for their education.”
Oklahoma CareerTech graduates annually add $3.5 billion to the state’s economy, according to a RegionTrack study, a nationally recognized economic forecasting company. The direct benefits are 10 times the direct costs to deliver training to those who complete CareerTech programs.
Calvert has been in Meridian’s STEM Academy since she was a sophomore in high school. She emphasized that the program at Meridian helped her find success.
“The teachers really care about your success,” Calvert said. “I have such a good relationship with my teachers here. The classes are smaller and the environment is so different.”
Earlier in the school year Calvert was named a National Merit Scholar finalist. Calvert will graduate from Meridian’s Pre-Engineering program and Stillwater High School this spring.
Meridian Technology Center has been a driver of economic development since 1975. With a mission to educate, enrich lives and secure economic futures, Meridian offers full-time career training programs, short courses, Business and Industry services and entrepreneurial support to residents from the Agra, Carney, Glencoe, Guthrie, Morrison, Mulhall-Orlando, Pawnee, Perkins-Tryon, Perry and Stillwater school districts.
For more information or to enroll visit www.meridiantech.edu or contact a career counselor by phone at (405) 377-3333 or toll-free at (888) 607-2509.