Hassan Haider ’13 is the National Chair of High School Democrats of America and a senior at Lenape High School in Medford. He attended the High School Leadership Academy (HSLA) in the summer of 2010. This year’s HSLA will be held from July 7-10 in DC; for more information, click here.
After finishing my freshman year of high school, I knew I wanted to find a way to make the most of my summer. Unfortunately, there weren’t many options for politically active students like me. After asking around, a friend referred me to the HSLA, a new program that was starting that year. I filled the application and waited, hoping I would be chosen to spend a week in Washington, D.C.
After going through the HSLA, I can honestly say it was one of my best high school experiences. Looking back, not only as National Chair of the High School Democrats of America, but as a high school senior, as well, I realize that the HSLA taught me so many skills that are useful in politics and the classroom. Meeting with lawmakers, special interest groups, and learning about issue advocacy allowed me to gain true insight into the world of politics. The sessions focused on campaigning were especially interesting and informative: in the years since, I have been able to secure positions as field director, outreach manager, and as a volunteer coordinator. Campaigns I have worked on understood the value of the HSLA and valued it. We learned skills that normally take multiple campaigns to master. We learned how to lobby for issues with techniques that are normally reserved for the “pros”. The HSLA prepared us to take on the world of politics with a strong skillvset and the leadership abilities needed to be successful.
Whether its a night spent touring the monuments of our nation’s capital, or a morning meeting with Emily’s List, the HSLA is a packed experience that helps hone students into leaders. As I look back now, I wish I could go back and repeat my HSLA experience. There is no other program or way to spend your summer that can match what the HSLA will teach you, the people you will meet, and the connections you will forge.