JSA president attends political summer camp, makes plans for chapter

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Karen Su meets Congresswoman Kristi Noem at JSA camp. Photo courtesy of Karen Su
Karen Su meets Congresswoman Kristi Noem at JSA camp.
Photo courtesy of Karen Su.

While school was out for the summer,  junior Karen Su was hard at work making plans for Townsend Harris’s Junior States of America (JSA) chapter. Karen, the club’s president and founder, attended JSA Summer School at Georgetown University from July 14-August 4, where she took courses and met various officials that inspired her to improve her own chapter.

JSA is the largest student-run organization in the United States.  Its purpose is to encourage youth to model and learn about the U.S. government. Students regulate everything from electing their leaders to planning regional and national conventions, with members consistently debating and discussing political issues. Karen  attended JSA Summer School at Princeton University in 2012, which inspired her to start a JSA chapter at Townsend Harris during the second semester of last year.  The club gained immediate appeal among students.

Karen enjoyed reuniting with friends and meeting new people at Georgetown University.

“I had the opportunity to interact with a massive network of year round JSA elected officials, cabinet members, and chapter presidents from around the country,” she recalled. “It definitely gave me the chance to understand JSA better in different perspectives, and I was able to learn more about how JSA worked as a nation.”

At Georgetown, Karen took a “Media and Politics” course taught by a college professor. She described the experience as “eye-opening.” In addition, Karen took part in “Congressional Workshops” where she and her peers debated controversial issues in society.  She also toured Washington DC, including the Pentagon  and floor of the House of Representatives.

As for how to bring her experience from Georgetown back home to improve the experience of this year’s JSA chapter, Karen said, “our chapter can definitely expect a lot of activism and community involvement this year.”

Karen received inspiration to make her JSA chapter more active while meeting policymakers like Congresswoman Kristi Noem, Congressman Mark Takano, Senator Chris Murphy, and Candace Gingrich-Jones. She hopes to use fundraising to bring Townsend Harris JSA participants to overnight conventions, so that all members have similar opportunities.

Following Karen’s three-week session at Georgetown, she attended a JSA cabinet retreat from August 24-25 in Connecticut. There, the newly elected Northeast JSA officials discussed goals and how to achieve them in separate teams. Karen remarked about how her Communications team made a lot of progress in “reaching out to the entire state via social media.” The JSA Northeast website claimed that the delegates were so committed to their work that “sojourners at the hotel approached cabinet members to inquire about why they were up so late working.”

Despite all the planning, Karen maintains JSA’s prime focus, saying that the chapter’s basic goal for this year is “to help members improve their debate and public speaking skills so that they can better articulate their opinions and arguments on various issues.”