• Amit Banerjee

Congressional Youth Advisory Council: service that lasts forever


Last weekend I graduated from Congressman Sam Johnson's Congressional Youth Advisory Council (CYAC) and received the Congressional Record Certificate.

You may be wondering what’s so special about it. Well, the Congressional Record (CR) is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress. It is published daily when Congress is in session, similar to a newspaper. It has both a physical printed copy as well as a digital copy that can be viewed online. Since CYAC is an active council of the US Congress, we the CYAC class of 2014 went down in history.

So what is the Congressional Youth Advisory Council? It is a council consisting of a select group of individuals who are given first-hand experiences with the different sectors of the government with the goal of making us more civic-minded, and think about what we, as citizens, can do for the country. We are also given the opportunity to share our insights and thoughts with Congressman Johnson.

It all started with my Law teacher, Toni Adams handing me the application. I noted that I had only one day before the application deadline. I frantically filled out the application and reached out to my contacts for recommendations. It was such a short notice but my mentor Bob Hopkins and my Scoutmaster Scott Kubasta gave up their precious free time to write the recommendation letters for me that evening. Next morning, my mom rushed to the Congressman’s office to drop off the application. It all happened so quickly and before I knew it, I received a letter of acceptance to the Council. I was thrilled. I knew this would be another amazing experience for me.

As part of CYAC, I learnt about Sam Johnson and his service to the nation. I got to speak with a representative of the Collin County Veterans Court and learn about their rehabilitation program. On a field trip to the Department of Homeland Security Threat Fusion Center, I learnt how they detect, prevent, investigate, and respond to criminal and terrorist activity. As my final project, I had the privilege of interviewing Lt. Commander, Peter Fallgatter, a naval officer who was a significant contributor to the mission, Operation: Enduring Freedom.

At our graduation ceremony, Brandon Byers, a war veteran who lost his left leg in 2005 from a roadside bomb in Iraq, talked to us about the different ways one can served his country. He explained that one can serve his country by enlisting in the military, or by holding a political office and creating legislature that helps the citizens. One can serve also his country by starting his own business and providing jobs to the locals. What's important is the desire to serve. This really resonated with me as I could connect it to my passion to serve others.

On the final day, as we received our graduation certificates and took pictures the Congressman, in my mind I renewed my vow to continue in my service to others. I also promised myself to visit Washing D.C. soon and check out the Congressional Records at the Library of Congress. Hard to believe but my name will be kept alive in the annals of American history.


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