June 24, 2010
When Florence Chen of Granger was elected governor of the 69th Hoosier Girls State Thursday (June 24), she was suddenly one step closer to achieving her long-term goal of being a national legislator.
"It felt basically unbelievable," said Chen, who ran for the Nationalist Party. "I was so grateful to everyone who helped me, who supported me. It was a dream come true, really."
Her running mate, Angelica Rodriguez of Hammond, elected to lieutenant governor, had never before considered politics as a future career. That has changed.
"Now, I'm kind of considering politics because of the experiences I've had here," Rodriguez said. "I really might consider an office so that I can help my city. I want to bring something back to my community there."
About 620 high school girls from across Indiana formed a 51st state during their week (June 20-26) on the campus of Indiana State University. Through the creation of a fictitious 51st state, delegates take part in a government exercise that educates them on the structure of politics and government, including running for office from the Nationalist and Federalist political parties.
Chen, daughter of Danny Chen and Sharon Hu and a student at Penn High School, has learned a lot more about the government and politics after attending Hoosier Girls State.
"Being an active citizen is a big commitment," Chen said. "I've learned a lot about campaigning, the process of it. It's not about flashiness. It's about going out and getting support."
Rodriguez, daughter of Nelva and Alejandrino Rodriguez and a student at Hammond High School, was the first from her high school to attend Girls State in a long time, maybe ever, she said. Her counselor told her and a friend about it, encouraging them to attend.
"I knew I had to do something big," Rodriguez said. "My sister said, ‘Go hard or go home.'"
Though at first she contemplated going home, Rodriguez eventually decided to run for governor, later changing her position to lieutenant governor, a position she believes better fits her personality.
"I wasn't interested in politics at all before, but this experience has taught me how the government actually works," she said. "If the right people are running it, the government can help. They're not always the bad guys."
Hoosier Girls State is sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary of Indiana as a way of educating a select group of young women on the duties, rights, privileges and responsibilities of citizenship.
Also elected to positions were:
-Secretary of State Alecxis Alvarez, daughter of Anthony Alvarez and Jacqueline Alvarez of Westfield, is a student at Westfield High School and a member of the Nationalist Party.
-Auditor Raven Popoloski, daughter of Tina and Thomas Popoloski of LaPorte, is a student at New Prairie High School and a member of the Nationalist Party.
-Treasurer Katie Denta, daughter of Brian and TeriAnn Denta of Kokomo, is a student at Western High School and a member of the Federalist Party.
-Attorney General Carri Fitzpatrick, daughter of Riley and Nicole Fitzpatrick, Jr. of Jeffersonville, is a student at Jeffersonville High School and a member of the Federalist Party.
-Superintendent of Public Instruction Emily Walden, daughter of Jill and Steve Olson of Plymouth, is a student at Plymouth High School and a member of the Federalist Party.
Angelica Rodriguez of Hammond hugs Florence Chen after the announcement they were elected lieutenant governor and governor of Hoosier Girls State. ISU Photo/Tony Campbell
Contact: Vickie Koutz, Hoosier Girls State director, at 812-237-7890 or 812-237-6472
Writer: Lana Schrock, media relations assistant, Indiana State University Communications and Marketing, 812-237-3773 or email@example.com
More than 600 high school girls from across Indiana formed a 51st state during their week (June 20-26) on the campus of Indiana State University as part of Hoosier Girls State.