By Chris Maza
LONGMEADOW – Longmeadow High School junior Jonathan Mack will have the opportunity of a lifetime, serving as one of two Massachusetts delegates to the 52nd annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP), which will take place March 8 to 15 in Washington, D.C.
Mack, the junior class secretary, will have the opportunity to join a group of 104 student delegates from across the country for what the USSYP describes as “an intensive week-long study of the federal government and the people who lead it.”
Mack was one of nearly 170 Massachusetts junior and senior applicants for the program, which, in addition to the trip, offers a $5,000 scholarship.
“I was driving my car and I missed the call. I pulled into the parking lot and called them back and when they told me I was selected, I was in utter shock. I had no idea. I was in total surprise because I didn’t think I’d get it,” he said.
He explained that he and two other class officers first took a qualifying exam to be considered. He was one of the top-10 scorers in the state and earned the opportunity to travel to Malden where he wrote an essay and had an interview in the next tier of the selection process.
According to the USSYP, student delegates rank academically in the top 1 percent of their states among high school juniors and seniors and are also judged by their level of involvement in public service.
In addition to serving as an elected officer for his class, Mack volunteers at his church’s youth ministry after graduating from Georgetown Summer School where he learned to direct volunteers from Western Massachusetts, is an athlete and was one of the leaders of former Republican state Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez’s campaign in Longmeadow.
Mack said in his interview he focused on his work within his school and his community and didn’t focus on his involvement in a political campaign.
“I think that’s what they were really looking for,” he said. “They were looking for people who were making a difference in their schools and in their communities. I think the work that I’ve done in politics so far helped them see that side of me, but I think I really got it on the merits of what I’ve done for the school and community.”
While in the nation’s capital, Mack will meet a host of dignitaries and lawmakers, including U.S. senators and congressional staff, a Supreme Court justice and even President Barack Obama.
“The schedule is so jam-packed that we’re actually having speakers while we’re having breakfast at our hotel,” he said. “The president is definitely going to be a high point for me. I’m really looking forward to that as well as meeting our two fine senators.”
Mack added that he was also looking forward to learning from the other delegates.
“I think it’s going to be a great experience to be able to talk to some of the 100 other students who were chosen from around the country,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to exchanging ideas with them.”