Uni student is one of four in California to earn a spot in the U.S. Senate Youth Program


A University High School student with political aspirations and a stellar academic resume has been named as California’s alternate delegate in the highly competitive United States Senate Youth Program.

Steven Uhlaner Brownstone secured the honor following a rigorous review process that narrowed a field of 130 applicants to just four finalists. If either of the first two delegates is unable to participate, the Uni senior will have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., in March to study the federal government as a guest of the U.S. Senate.

“When I turned in the application I was sure nothing would come of it because there are just so many people in the state of California,” Brownstone said.

In fact, he had almost forgotten about the potential honor when he received a phone call from a stranger, who asked if he was Steven Brownstone.

“After I said yes, he revealed he was from the California Department of Education and that I was the first alternate for the California delegation to the United States Youth Senate Program,” he said. “That was the most exciting phone call I had ever received. I can’t believe I received this honor.”

Funded by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, the Senate Youth Program is a highly regarded scholarship competition endorsed by the Senate. All 50 states annually select two high school juniors or seniors to participate, as does the District of Columbia and the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity.

Nina Arati Kamath, a senior at Lynbrook High School in San Jose, and Morgen Diane Harvey, a senior at Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley, were selected as California’s delegates this year. Karina Clair Jougla, a senior at Carpinteria High School, was named the second alternate behind Brownstone.

In announcing this year’s winners, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson called Brownstone and Jougla “superb students with a dedication to academic achievement and community involvement.”

“All of these students do California proud,” he said.

Delegates for 2012 were chosen based on the quality of their applications, their level of academic achievement, their interpersonal and communication skills, their knowledge of American government and U.S. history, and their involvement in school and community activities, according to the state Department of Education. Also factored in were leadership traits, extracurricular activities and service to the community.

To be considered by the department’s selection committee, interested juniors and seniors first had to secure nominations from their principals. A rigorous review process followed, leading up to Torlakson’s announcement.

Brownstone maintains a weighted grade-point average of 4.32, serves as a student representative at IUSD Board of Education meetings and has forged leadership roles with Model United Nations, Mock Trial and the Jewish Student Union at Uni. He’s also a political columnist in the Journalism Club, vice president of the Band Executive Council for Uni’s marching band and a member of the school’s jazz band.

Brownstone said his ultimate career goal is to serve in the U.S. Foreign Service and eventually run for political office. He and the other three honorees are expected to be recognized by the State Board of Education in January.