WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) congratulated and met virtually with New Mexico’s two student delegates for the United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP), Yuttichai (Eric) Sommala of Rio Rancho, and Eli Terry of Portales.
Every year, two students from each state and the District of Columbia – as well as two children of service members stationed and living abroad — are selected in a highly competitive merit-based process to participate in a week-long study of the federal government and its leaders. The USSYP agenda includes meetings with senators, the president, cabinet secretaries, and other key policymakers. Each of the student delegates also will receive a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 USSYP will be held virtually.
“I am proud of Eric and Eli’s dedication and involvement in their communities, and I commend them for their service. These up-and-coming young leaders show us that our state and our country’s future remains bright,” said Senator Heinrich. “Seeing our systems of government first-hand is an invaluable experience. I hope this incredible opportunity will instill in both of them a lifelong commitment to public service, and I look forward to seeing all that they accomplish in the years ahead.”
Eric Sommala, a senior at Rio Rancho High School in Rio Rancho, serves as the Southwest district governor for the Key Club International organization. He has leadership roles as the Associated Student Body president and the National Honor Society president. Eric ranks second in his class of 567 students and has taken 10 AP classes. Eric would like to pursue a bachelor of science in biochemistry and a graduate degree in public health policy, leading to a career in public health.
Eli Terry, a senior at Floyd High School in Portales, serves as the vice president of the Senior Class. He participates in the Associated Students organization, 4-H, basketball, track, National Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Future Farmers of America. Eli hopes to attend Eastern New Mexico University and obtain a bachelor's degree in communication disorders and work toward legislation to improve educational experiences for students with communication disorders.