As the nation holds its 58th presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, among those in attendance will be Ella Carsey. The Cedar Bayou Junior School eighth-grader is headed to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Presidential Inauguration Leadership Summit, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for high-aspiring students.
The summit is hosted by the Envision Experience, which offers programs to students in elementary through college geared toward career exploration and leadership development. Ella was first introduced to Envision via teacher recommendation. The summer after finishing fifth grade, she traveled to Washington. So, when Envision announced that students who had already participated in the program could sign up for the Presidential Inauguration Leadership Summit, Ella jumped at the opportunity and will now be one of just 100 students from across the country to spend three days in the nation’s capital during the official inaugural events.
Throughout the summit, notable figures will speak to the students, including Gen. Colin Powell, filmmaker Spike Lee and 19-year-old human rights activist and youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate, Malala Yousafzai. Coincidentally, Ella is currently doing her history fair project on Malala. She submitted several questions for the Pakistani-born international education advocate and was selected as one of six program participants who will ask Malala a question during the session.
The question Ella submitted and will ask is, “How can we, as young girls, help in the stand for girls’ education?”
“I’m so excited to see Malala,” she said. “I have always liked that she stands up for education around the world, which we sometimes take for granted.”
During the three-day stay in Washington, participants in the program will not only attend the inauguration and other inaugural festivities, including their own inaugural ball.
But the program isn’t all fun and games.
Upon arrival, students will be assigned to groups and given a task to work on. (Although they don’t know the task until they arrive, an example would be “How to create a better future for America.”) At the end of the program, groups will present their thoughts, ideas and solutions. The student-leader concepts should be interesting, particularly at a time when tensions in the U.S. are high, but Ella believes she has the answer to any problem.
“I think we need more Jesus,” she said.