Lauren Mick was one of two Delaware students to attend the annual Girls Nation model govnernment program in Washington, D.C., last week, where she and 96 young women from across the country learned valuable lessons about life and politics


When Polytech High School junior Lauren Mick filled out a simple application to attend the American Legion Auxiliary’s annual Girls State model government program this year, she had no idea she’d end up shaking hands and talking politics with the president of the United States.

After participating in Girls State at Wesley College in Dover last month, Mick was chosen to be one of Delaware’s two delegates to the Girls Nation summit, held last week in Washington, D.C.

Over the course of the week, Mick and 96 other Girls Nation senators rubbed elbows with the nation’s political elite, sitting down with senators and representatives from across the country and even taking a meeting President Barack Obama.

On the penultimate day of the conference, the delegates toured the White House and gathered for a group photo in the ballroom, the same venue that hosts state dinners.

The president was expected to pop in for the photo and be quickly whisked away to keep with his busy schedule, but he decided to stay and talk with the Girls Nation senators.

“He surprised us and talked to us for a while,” Mick said. “I didn’t even think it was happening.”

After the president singled out one of the delegates from his home state of Illinois, Mick spoke up and called Obama’s attention to her state’s contribution to the administration, Vice President Joe Biden.

For her confidence and tenacity, the president rewarded Mick with a handshake.

That same forthrightness served Mick well during the rest of her week at Girls Nation, which consisted of much more than meetings with politicians.

Mick and the other delegates spent most of their time hashing out a variety of important issues, touching on everything from education policy to international affairs.

In her committee, Mick saw firsthand how unique views can shape a public debate.

“Energy was very big. The oil spill played a big part,” she said. “It was great to see other people’s perspectives, especially from the Gulf coast.”

Her father Joel said Girls Nation helped Lauren broaden her horizons and find out more about what her peers are thinking and saying outside of her home state.

“Locally, she didn’t hear that much,” he said. “She came back with the realization that people have different views.”

Mother Michelle said the Girls Nation experience built on what Lauren already does.

“Lauren is very good at debating, in a good way,” she said. “She really does her homework. But when Lauren got to Girls Nation she realized there was a lot more to it.”

Mick said the conference only served to reinforce her zeal for politics and pushed her further toward the goal of becoming the nation’s fist female president.

“That’s been my goal since I was 4 years old. I thought Hillary [Clinton] might beat me to it,” she said.

Mick’s father said he knew his daughter was headed for a political future when she called him mid-way through the week after a meeting with Delaware Rep. Mike Castle.

“You could tell in her voice that this is what she wants to do,” he said.

At the meeting, Castle asked Mick to work on his campaign for Senate. She obliged, recognizing the possible stepping-stone working for a candidate could be, even if it’s only a volunteer job calling voters or stuffing envelopes.

“It confirmed that I really, really want to work in politics,” she said. “And I learned to respect people as people, and not just see them for their political views.”

 

About Lauren

Age: 16

School: Polytech High School

Favorite subject: History

Extracurricular activities: Volleyball, basketball, softball, lacrosse

Email Doug Denison at doug.denison@doverpost.com