WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) met with Antonella Carmen Blanco of Union and Joseph Marshall Touma of Huntington, the two West Virginia students who were selected as delegates to attend the 55th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) in Washington D.C. This week they are joining student delegates from across the country attend meetings and briefings with the president, congressional members and staff, a Justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies, an ambassador to the United States and senior members of the media, and tour many of the national monuments and museums.
“Antonella and Joseph worked very hard to become delegates in this prestigious program, and I was honored to congratulate them in person for their exceptional work. I have no doubt that these students have bright futures ahead, and I commend their involvement in their communities and interest in public service. West Virginia’s students of today are the leaders of tomorrow, and Antonella and Joseph are two shining examples of what the future holds for our state,” said Senator Capito.
“It was a privilege to meet with this year’s student delegates from West Virginia, Antonella and Joseph,” Senator Manchin said. “Antonella and Adrien are both incredible young people who have exhibited tremendous leadership through their commitment to their studies and involvement in their communities. Each of these talented delegates is a part of our nation’s future, and now, more than ever, our country needs young leaders like them. My hope for these students is that they receive the guidance and resources that allow them to walk their own paths towards the continuation of our great country’s values and potentially pursue a career in public service. Their passion for our democracy is inspiring and I’m confident they will represent our great state well this week in Washington.”
The Hearst Foundations also provides each student with a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs. The intensive week-long educational experience and scholarship is sponsored by the United States Senate and fully funded by the Hearst Foundations.
The chief educational officer in each state selects the delegates after nomination by teachers and principals. This year’s delegates were designated by Dr. Michael J. Martirano, West Virginia’s Superintendent of Schools. Student bios are included below.
Antonella Blanco attends James Monroe High School and serves as Student Council representative. Antonella is also youth secretary of State for the governor's Cabinet as part of the Youth Leadership Association (YLA), and the president of the General Assembly of the YLA's Model United Nations. She is a permanent member and volunteer for both the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. In addition, she is a firefighter for the Union Volunteer Fire Department and serves as the executive officer for her JROTC battalion. Antonella volunteered with voter registration efforts in her senior class, captains her cross country team, and meets with her congressman and local representatives to advocate for legislation she supports.
Joseph Touma attends Huntington High School and serves as a Student Council representative. Additionally, Joseph is president of the Young Republicans at Huntington High School and a cabinet member of the school's student government. He is also an Eagle Scout and the co-founder of Bridge the Divide, a nonpartisan organization that seeks to promote political tolerance and understanding among youth. He is currently an intern in the office of U.S. Congressman Evan Jenkins. After a college career focused on political science or international relations, followed by a law degree, Joseph is considering the foreign service or seeking public office at the local, state or national level.
West Virginia student delegates Antonella Carmen Blanco of Union and Joseph Marshall Touma of Huntington met with Senators Capito and Manchin during the United States Senate Youth Program’s 55th annual Washington Week