When you imagine someone who works in public policy, what do you picture? An old white Congressman? A posh woman wearing a business suit? What about a group of young, driven teenagers?
Through the North Carolina General Assembly Page Program, high school students such as Ainsley Duke, Leesville senior, have the opportunity to witness the legislative process firsthand.
This summer, Duke spent one week in the North Carolina State Legislative Building observing the legislative process in action while working firsthand with lawmakers.
A North Carolina State Legislator, either a senator or a Representative, sponsors pages. During a week long process, Duke worked with Cynthia Ball, a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives, running errands, distributing files, and assisting Ball in any way possible.
Duke and her fellow Pages witnessed democracy at work in a variety of forms during the week: attending House sessions, speaking with sponsors, and watching committee meetings. “I got to be on the house floor as some governor’s vetoes were overrode, and it was just really interesting to see,” said Duke.
While Duke has always had a passion for politics, the Page Program gave her an outlet through which she could channel her political efforts. “I have always had an interest in government, and being able to see how it works from the inside was really interesting,” said Duke.
In addition to providing key insight about how the legislative process functions, the Page Program allowed Duke to connect with other students with similar passions. When Duke wasn’t exploring the North Carolina State Legislature Building, she was interacting with other young adults who, like herself, wanted to experience the lawmaking procedure directly. “My favorite part was meeting other pages from across the state; I really feel like I learned a lot from them,” said Duke.
All in all, the program allowed passionate students to truly observe the legislative process firsthand, gaining key experience for future career paths. “This program is going to help me out in the future because I understand more about our government and how it works, and how I can use it to help other people,” said Duke.
The Page Program emphasizes the importance of political activism for young adults. By working with current North Carolina state legislators, the Page Program enables the future generation of lawmakers to constitute strong policy when they enter the political environment themselves.