COLUMN: Preparing Young Washingtonians for the Future

September 9, 2016
Weekly Column and Op-Ed

One of the best aspects of representing Central Washington in Congress is meeting the young people of all ages who will become the leaders and entrepreneurs of tomorrow. I recently visited the Boys & Girls Club in Moses Lake and a history class at Ellen Ochoa Middle School in Pasco, and after answering students’ many questions about Congress, I was filled with optimism when I caught a glimpse of our society’s future leaders. I recently had the privilege of meeting Prosser Housel Middle School students competing in National History Day and Toppenish’s Heritage University students who finished in the top four out of 250 colleges and universities in the national Enactus competition, which encourages entrepreneurship. These students’ ingenious projects made the entire Yakima Valley proud. As a community, we all want to cheer our young people on to succeed. Young people – especially those who are nearing graduation or have already graduated from high school – just need the right resources and the information to plan according to their individual strengths and talents.

The best we can do is to provide the tools for the next generation to succeed in life. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Upon the subject of education…I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in.” Lincoln was certainly right, and I hope to assist young people with pursuing the next step of their personal goals for higher education or job training.

To help students and families in the 4th Congressional District plan for their future, I have put together a free Higher Education and Job Training Expo in Yakima on September 17 at the Yakima Valley Hotel & Convention Center from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Last year at a similar event in the Tri-Cities, I was thrilled to see hundreds of young people and their parents perusing the many booths and having their questions answered. This year’s expo will host experts who can provide tips on applying to colleges and navigating student financial aid programs.

Dozens of organizations, both educational and professional, will be on hand on September 17 to offer assistance. Some of the most impressive people I have met while representing Central Washington have been the applicants for a congressional nomination to U.S. military academies. Navigating the military academy nomination process requires plenty of advance planning, so in addition to civilian institutions at the Expo in Yakima there will also be representatives from U.S. Army ROTC and the Air Force Academy, the Merchant Marine Academy, the Military Academy at West Point, and the Naval Academy. There will be participating tradesmen and apprenticeship organizations to give direction and guidance to those who are ready to jump straight into a profession.

I hope you and your family are able to join me on September 17, or if you know a young person who is planning ahead, then encourage them to attend this free higher education and job training event. As a community, together we can encourage the next generation to achieve success.