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June 19, 2009
By Skyler Dillon
University of Nevada, Reno student Emma Garcia will soon have the chance to hone her leadership skills as Nevada's representative at The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship's Second Annual Student Congress.
The senior chemistry and political science major successfully went through interviews with Senator Harry Reid's office and Statesmanship Program officials after being nominated by Steve Calhoun at the TRiO Scholars Program, where she works as an academic tutor, to earn an invitation. On June 20, she will arrive in Lexington, Virg., along with one student from each state, to begin a week of lessons in diplomacy, mediation and negotiation.
"It will be an amazing week," Garcia said. "They're going to show us as much as possible."
In choosing participants for the Congress, The Henry Clay Center asks the senior U.S. senator from each state to recommend a student representative. Garcia says it is a wonderful way for politicians to get involved with their constituents.
"You need to show that you give back to the community," she said. "And this really achieves that."
The skills Garcia will learn at the Congress by witnessing congressional proceedings in Richmond, meeting with dignitaries, and participating in lessons and student exercises will help her both now and in the future. Her work with the Multicultural Greek Council requires the diplomacy that the Congress is promoting, and because she is working toward becoming an obstetrician-gynecologist specializing in international women's health issues, the "active listening" focus in the curriculum of the Congress will help her further her career.
"I'm hoping to learn how to be a better leader," Garcia said. "Anything that can help me see other sides of issues. Unfortunately, not every problem is cookie-cutter; there are always many factors to consider."
Although Garcia has never participated in a specifically statesmanship-oriented program before, she is looking forward to the experience.
"I've gone to conferences that emphasize the global village and learning about diversity," she said, "but not something quite like this. I'm excited."
Garcia hopes that other students will follow in her footsteps to become Nevada's next generation of leaders.
"If something interests you, go for it," she said. "Don't let something stand in your way. There are definitely people out there who are willing to help you."