Posted on Jul. 22 2016 by Patricia Gibson, Communications DirectorThis weekend, one Marion High School student is getting an inside look at the inner-workings of the federal government in Washington, D.C., as one of only two Indiana students to attend Boys Nation.
Alex Flores, an incoming senior at MHS, was nominated by his fellow delegates to Hoosier Boys State last month for one of two delegate spots for Boys Nation. Seven people were considered, but only two were chosen through an interview process by a committee of Boys State officials to continue to Boys Nation as “senators” from Indiana.
Alex Flores is honored as one of two Boys Nation delegates during Hoosier Boys State. (Photo courtesy Hoosier Boys State)
Alex has never before been to Washington, D.C., and he said he was looking forward to the trip and the Boys Nation experience.
But the D.C. trip isn’t the only thing he’s looking forward to. Unexpectedly, one of his dreams got one step closer to reality through the interview process at Boys State, which was held in June at Trine University.
During that process, he mentioned that one of his goals is to attend the United States Air Force Academy. That’s something, he said, that he thought would have little chance of happening, because you have to have a congressional recommendation to be considered for the Academy. But as he talked about that goal with the interviewing committee, one of the Boys State officials urged Flores to speak with him further, because he had a contact that might be able to get him considered for a congressional recommendation.
Alex hopes to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy and dreams of becoming a pilot. His fallback plan, he said, was Purdue University. But he never dreamed that his first choice could actually become a reality.
The lesson, he said: “If you have a goal, stick with it. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Boys State and Boys Nation are sponsored by The American Legion, and Flores was sponsored by the local American Legion Post 10 to attend Boys State.
This year, more than 400 young men from around the state of Indiana participated in the week-long experience hosted by Trine University. Delegates, organized into “cities” and “counties,” create simulated governments, from local up to state level, including executive, legislative, and judicial systems.
Alex Flores and the rest of his "city" pose for a group photo. (Photo courtesy Hoosier Boys State)
The mission of Hoosier Boys State is to provide young men an opportunity to learn how politics impacts our daily lives.
At Boys Nation, the experience is similar, but focused on federal level government. Each delegate acts as a senator from their home state, and the young “lawmakers” organize into committees and conduct hearings on bills submitted by their fellow delegates. They use U.S. Senate rules, and they learn about the organization of party conventions and nominating and electing a president and a vice president. In a presidential election year, this almost certainly takes on even more significance for the students!
The delegates’ week in D.C. also includes visits to federal agencies, visits with elected officials from their home states, as well as trips to see the area’s monuments, historical sites, and more.
Alex has long dreamed of joining the military. That dream was inspired, he said, back when he was elementary school, and he witnessed Black Hawk helicopters flying during National Guard training in the Marion area.
After seeing a JROTC Color Guard demonstration as a student at McCulloch Junior High Schoool, he took advantage of the opportunity to join JROTC when he got to Marion High School. The motivation, he said with a smile, was to avoid having to take a swimming class. But the program has given him insight into the military career that he had long been considering, and has propelled him along that path that he hopes will take him to the U.S. Air Force Academy.
The Boys State experience, though, has him at least contemplating the role he could one day play in a different type of public service.
“I never really considered a political career,” Alex said, “but this kind of opened my eyes.”
Part of the interview process for the Boys Nation delegate selection was to discuss bills he might put forward at Boys Nation. Alex said he focused his proposals on “green” initiatives, such as solar roadways and hybrid or electric vehicles for government fleets. He said he feels like clean energy has a lot of public support, and he can convince other delegates to get behind those ideas.
If his experience at Boys State is any indication, networking and communication skills might serve him well not only at Boys Nation, but long into the future. Within just a few days of meeting Alex, his fellow delegates nominated him for a spot at Boys State. He ran for governor and mayor, and during those campaigns and other interactions, he certainly must’ve made quite an impression on his fellow delegates. And he made quite an impression on the selection committee as well.
“It was amazing,” Alex said of the honor. “I didn’t even expect to be nominated. It was completely mindblowing. It’s a pretty big thing.”
And his family has been right behind him, cheering him on.
“Ever since I got back from Boys State, they haven’t stopped talking about how proud they are and how amazed they are at these opportunities,” Alex said.
He was asked to participate in his JROTC uniform as part of the flag lowering ceremony at the close of Hoosier Boys State, along with several other JROTC members from other parts of the state who were Boys State delegates also.
Alex Flores lowers the flag with other JROTC cadets from the around the state who were delegates to Boys State. (Photo courtesy Hoosier Boys State)
That experience was an example of what Alex said was his favorite part about his Boys State experience:
“Everyone got along and instantly started working with common purpose,” he said. “Together, we achieved goals.”
It’s an experience, he said, that he would recommend to anybody. Flores said he went into it not knowing what to expect, and he didn’t realize what an incredible experience it would be — and what opportunities would arise from it.
Alex admitted he was feeling a bit nervous heading into his senior year at MHS, but it’s clear that his fellow delegates and the Boys Nation selection committee are among those who are confident that he is well-equipped to succeed at anything he chooses to attempt. We congratulate Alex on his accomplishments, and we look forward to seeing him follow his dreams!
Any interested junior can fill out an application to attend Boys State. Marion High School juniors should contact the Guidance Department to learn more.
Alex Flores, second from left, stands with his fellow JROTC cadets as part of the flag detail for ceremonies during 2016 Hoosier Boys State in June at Trine University. (Photo courtesy Hoosier Boys State)