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Local teen attends National Young Leaders Conference

Michael Stokes with Senator Tim Scott while on his trip to Washington D.C. Photo submitted

Michael Stokes with Senator Tim Scott while on his trip to Washington D.C. Photo submitted

Michael Stokes was very surprised when he received his invitation to attend the National Young Leaders Conference. He was told that a teacher at some point during his school years had anonymously recommended him for this program, a program that Stokes explained “has possibly changed his career path.”

Stokes packed his bags and traveled to Bethesda, Maryland to attend the conference with two hundred and forty four others. He was one of three students selected to represent the state of South Carolina. The students did have volunteer chaperones that were chosen by the conference to help them navigate through their week. Stokes shared a hotel room with two others. Roommates were chosen by the conference and teens were paired together according to their birthday. Stokes had two roommates, one from Michigan and one from Colorado. Stokes reported that the boys will be lifelong friends and hope to visit each other in their home states.

This year the focus of NYLC was skills in leadership for change. The large group of students were broken down into smaller groups of around twenty five. The smaller groups then had a task to perform. During the conference the students heard from various speakers from non- profit organizations. After hearing about non-profits, what they do and how they work, the students were given the task to design their own non-profit group to present to the others. Stokes said, “It was great collaborating with others to form a non-profit organization. Our idea was to create one agency where people come for help, instead of them having to go to multiple locations. For instance, our agency could help abused women and serve as a food pantry and shelter as well.”

The group also spent time in the nation’s capital. Stokes was able to meet with Congressman James Clyburn. Clyburn, who is the Assistant Minority Leader, had just testified on the Congressional Black Caucus 10-20-30 anti-poverty plan at the House Committee on the Budget hearing titled “A progress report on the war on poverty: Reforming Federal Aid,” before meeting with Stokes. Stokes was so impressed with meeting with Clyburn he says “I have always thought I wanted to be a veterinarian, but after talking with Congressman Clyburn I may have changed my mind and may want to pursue a career in politics.” Stokes also was elated when Senator Tim Scott made time in his busy


Christie Slocum (545 Posts)