Pawtucket students are state’s representatives for Senate Youth Program

Pawtucket students are state’s representatives for Senate Youth Program

Erica Prempeh, left and Chelsea Acheampong.

PAWTUCKET – Two city high school students, one from Tolman High School and one from Blackstone Valley Preparatory High School, are the state’s two winners in a competitive national civics scholarship program.

Erica Prempeh, a senior at Tolman, and Chelsea Acheampong, a senior at BVP, will join U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse in representing Rhode Island in the nation’s capital during the 58th annual U.S. Senate Youth Program Washington Week, to be held March 7-14.

Acheampong and Prempeh were selected from among the state’s top student leaders to be among the 104 students who will also each receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study.

Prempeh serves as president of Tolman’s National Honor Society, is a student representative to the Pawtucket School Committee, and is editor of the yearbook. She has earned six college credits and is a member of DECA, an organization for emerging entrepreneurs and business leaders.

“Due to her community service, leadership skills, vision, and work ethic she has earned several distinguished awards such as the State Treasurer Leadership Award and the Rhode Island Civics Leadership Award,” states a release.

She aspires to attend law school, become a politician, and fight for human rights, it reads.

Prempeh, 18, told The Breeze she’d like to possibly go into corporate law. She said she’s all about helping the downtrodden and empowerment of women.

“The reason why I want to go into politics is because I have noticed poverty and corruption firsthand and I want to do something to change that,” she said.

Those deciding her award said they liked the fact that she knows what she wants to do and that she sounds so confident, said Prempeh, who is the daughter of James Boateng.

Prempeh said she loves the opportunities Tolman provides for children of a low-income community and students here are encouraged to be great. She said everyone feels like they belong at Tolman and no one feels like an outcast.

On what she looks forward to most about her trip, Prempeh said she can’t wait to “talk to a bunch of smart kids” and learn about how the U.S. government works in real life.

Acheampong, 17, serves as the student body treasurer and the senior class treasurer at BVP. She says she is committed to bettering her community through outreach and activism. Through her many hours of service at Miriam Hospital and tutoring at the Boys & Girls Club, she uses her passion and leadership to tackle societal challenges, states the release.

She is a Bank of America student leader, avid speaker and writer, and was recently a state finalist at Providence Poetry Slam. She aspires to graduate from law school, work in politics, and start her own nonprofit.

Acheampong, daughter of Mary Ankamah, has committed to attend George Washington University and wants to study political science and pre-law. She said her application helped her stand out in a competitive field of applicants because she is so involved in her intentionally diverse school and the community as a whole.

Acheampong said her big goal is one day be a senator or even the U.S. president. She said she looks forward to meeting with 100 or so other like-minded students to learn about processes and history for an entire week.

Among the things she loves about BVP, she said, are how close students are able to get with their teachers and the fact that staff is always so understanding and willing to listen.

Another eventual career that appeals to her, said Acheampong, is to one day rise to U.S. Supreme Court justice. If she goes into politics, she said, she wants to be the type of politician who helps people, no matter what their background or how much money they have.

The USSYP is sponsored by the U.S. Senate and is fully funded by The Hearst Foundations. Transportation and all expenses for Washington Week are also provided by the foundation.

The motivation for the program is “to increase young Americans’ understanding of the interrelationships of the three branches of government, learn the caliber and responsibilities of federally elected and appointed officials, and emphasize the vital importance of democratic decision making not only for America but for people around the world.”

Each year this competitive merit-based program brings the most outstanding high school students, two from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity, to Washington, D.C., for an intensive week-long study of the federal government and the people who lead it.

In addition to outstanding leadership abilities and a strong commitment to volunteer work, the student delegates rank academically in the top 1 percent of their states among high school juniors and seniors.