By JOHN HOWELL Computer science and politics are an unlikely mix, but that's what Pilgrim junior Griffin Taylor talked about when interviewed by the Rhode Island Department of Education as one of six finalists in the competition to meet one-on-one with
Computer science and politics are an unlikely mix, but that’s what Pilgrim junior Griffin Taylor talked about when interviewed by the Rhode Island Department of Education as one of six finalists in the competition to meet one-on-one with United States Senators.
Griffin learned last week he is one of two Rhode Island students selected for the program to be held March 6 – 9 that will also give him a $10,000 college scholarship. Traditionally students selected for Washington Week meet in the nation’s Capitol but, because of the pandemic, face-to-face meetings with senators and high-ranking government officials will take place virtually. That hasn’t blunted Griffin’s enthusiasm.
“I get to meet all the senators and a first person view of what’s going on,” he said during a break between classes Friday.
All 100 senators?
Griffin wasn’t so certain of that, but he was confident of one-on-one meetings with Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse.
Griffin ranked computer science as a priority interest followed by government policy. Not only does he see the two interacting but also having an impact on public health. As an example, he said using computer programs to analyze data can expedite clinical trials of new drugs that can otherwise take months and years. Computer programs are currently being used in processing information, but Griffin’s point is computer science “could change public health policies.”
Established in 1962 by Senate resolution, the U.S. Senate Youth Program Washington Week provides an opportunity for selected students to gain an in-depth view of the Senate and the federal government as well as a deeper understanding of the interrelationship of the legislative, judicial and executive branches. The program provides a foundation of knowledge and encouragement for those considering a future of public service on the local, state or national level.
The agenda for the week encompasses the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. There are meetings with the Senate Co-Chairs, other Senate leaders and the Senate parliamentarian and historian; a justice of the Supreme Court, the president, officials from the Departments of State and Defense and other executive agencies, a foreign ambassador to the U.S. and senior members of the media, according to the USSYP website.
The program, including the cost of the $10,000 scholarships to be awarded to 104 delegates, is fully funded by the Hearst Foundation.
Griffin said he learned of the program from his father who urged him to apply. In addition to submitting an essay and being interviewed, Griffin provided letters of recommendation, a school transcript and a vita of his school activities.
Griffin is president of his class. Looking ahead to his senior year, he said he aims to make school more affordable for his classmates. He said the senior prom and other activities can be expensive and put stress on students. He is looking for ways to reduce those costs.
As for the academic step after Pilgrim, Griffin is focused on computer science and policy.
Might policy include political science? Griffin is not so sure about politics although he surely had a taste of that in being elected class president. For college he is thinking of “staying somewhat local.” He is thankful for what the opportunity of Washington Week.
“Everyone at Pilgrim has been so supportive. It’s great to know I have them at my back,” he said.
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