By Haviland Soto ’18
My name is Haviland Soto ‘18 and this summer, I was OLP’s Girls State Delegate. Girls State is a week-long program sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary where over 500 girls from all over California participate in a mock state government.
The week starts out with all the girls meeting their cities. Your city becomes your lifeline because you constantly are supporting and encouraging each other to take risks. Within each city, girls elect a city council and a mayor, and are appointed to other positions. I ran for Assemblywoman, but sadly was not elected to the position. Girls appointed or elected to city positions spend most of their time planning the city expo, where they get to talk about their cities, the residents and its most important highlights.
The next level of government you can participate in is the county. Each county consists of four cities. Within each county, girls are also able to run for different elected positions. I ran for Member at Large on the Board of Supervisors, but lost. Despite my loss, I was able to participate in the county mock trial, which was a fun way to become more involved.
Lastly, girls are able to run for state positions. These include partisan statewide positions such as governor and lieutenant governor, and nonpartisan positions for the state supreme court. I also ran for another position to serve as justice of the supreme court, but lost. In the end, I was appointed by the Secretary of State to a governor’s appointed position in the Department of Mental Health.
Even though I lost every position for which I campaigned, Girls State was a great learning experience. I learned about how government functions at the local, county, and state levels, and how to be an active citizen. For example, I was able to voice my opinion about my beliefs while creating a party platform. By voting, I was able to support candidates who were committed to the values and beliefs I sought in my elected officials. Even though Girls State is full of activities and everyone is very busy working on speeches or building their cities, I made amazing friendships. I still am in daily contact with my roommate, and my Girls State city has an Instagram account where we are able to update each other on our lives.
Girls State is an experience that will remain with me for the rest of my life. We formed a sisterhood and bond, similar to what we have at OLP. I highly recommend juniors who are interested in politics or government to consider applying for Girls State when Ms. Nagem emails the application during second semester. I guarantee that if selected as the OLP delegate, you will not regret giving up a week during summer because you will gain an amazing experience and life-long friendships!