Empowering the Future Leaders: The Junior Statesmen Program

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Four cheerful students sitting together at the desk and studying while one man looking over shoulder and smiling

Empowering the Future Leaders: The Junior Statesmen Program

In a world marked by complex global challenges and dynamic political landscapes, the importance of nurturing young leaders cannot be overstated. One program that has been at the forefront of this mission for decades is the Junior Statesmen Program (JSA).

With a rich history and a track record of empowering young minds to become informed, engaged, and responsible citizens, JSA is a beacon of hope for the next generation of leaders.

The JSA Nation

The Junior State of America comprises a diverse community of individuals, including students, teachers, parents, alumni, and collaborators, all united in their efforts to enhance democratic engagement by participating in our distinctive programs.

Within the JSA organization, a vibrant student-led structure exists, with elected and appointed leaders at various tiers, offering our participants a valuable opportunity for cooperation and collaboration.

Through this, they gain the necessary skills to effectively contribute to the functioning of democracy.

What is Junior Statesmen?

The Junior Statesmen Program is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to educating and preparing high school students for a life of active participation in a democratic society.

Established in 1934, JSA has grown into a nationwide movement, with chapters and programs spanning the United States. Its mission is to foster civic engagement, political awareness, and critical thinking skills among young people.

Do colleges recognize JSA?

Yes, definitely! Junior State of America has garnered recognition from prestigious colleges and universities due to its robust year-round initiatives and demanding summer programs.

Participating in JSA can make your college application stand out, showcasing your commitment to civic education and community engagement.

Additionally, JSA activities can help prepare you for college-level coursework, especially in fields related to politics, international relations, or communication.

Remember, while JSA participation can enhance your college applications, colleges consider a holistic view of applicants, so it should complement other aspects of your application, such as academic performance, recommendation letters, and personal essays.

Demonstrating a long-term commitment to the Junior Statesmen Program can be especially beneficial, as colleges value both consistency and depth of involvement in extracurricular activities.

Lastly, JSA offers a valuable and enriching experience that not only benefits your college prospects but also contributes to your personal and academic growth.

Is JSA a student-led club?

JSA students actively take on leadership positions at various tiers within the organization. They vie for roles within their chapters, at a regional level, and at the state level.

Those elected as state-level governors also play a crucial role as members of the National Council of Governors, which additionally appoints and oversees the National Cabinet.

These elected and appointed student leaders collaborate closely with JSA staff to envision and execute school-year programs.

This genuine responsibility within the organization provides students with the chance to apply and hone their leadership and professional skills.

It serves as a valuable learning experience, helping them become effective leaders in their communities.

What Do You Do In a JSA Club?

Participation in a Junior Statesmen of America club typically involves a wide range of activities and opportunities for high school students interested in politics, government, and civic engagement. Here’s a glimpse of what you might do in a JSA club:

Debates and Discussions

JSA clubs regularly host debates and discussions on various political and social issues. These activities encourage members to research, formulate arguments, and engage in civil discourse on topics of local, national, and global significance.

Mock Elections

Junior Statesmen Program often holds mock elections, allowing members to experience the democratic process firsthand. These simulations include campaigning, voting, and analyzing election results, providing insights into the workings of democracy.

Guest Speakers

Clubs frequently invite guest speakers, such as local politicians, activists, or experts in various fields, to provide insights and engage in Q&A sessions with club members. This offers students the opportunity to learn from real-world leaders.

Model Congress and Model United Nations

Many Junior Statesmen Program clubs organize Model Congress or Model United Nations events. These simulations involve role-playing as legislators or diplomats, discussing and debating proposed legislation or international issues.

Civic Engagement Projects

JSA encourages members to get involved in their communities through civic engagement projects. This might involve voter registration drives, community service initiatives, or advocacy campaigns for social and political causes.

Leadership Opportunities

JSA clubs often have leadership positions, such as president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. Serving in these roles provides valuable experience in leadership, organization, and teamwork.

Team of young volunteers in red shirts

Chapter Conventions

JSA chapters may organize their own conventions, which mimic the larger JSA conventions at the state or national level. These events include debates, speakers, and workshops.

Attending Regional and National Conventions

Junior Statesmen Program members have the opportunity to attend regional and national conventions, where they can engage in larger-scale debates, hear from prominent speakers, and network with students from other schools and regions.

Political Awareness

JSA fosters political awareness by encouraging members to stay informed about current events, policy issues, and government actions through discussions, research, and analysis.

Critical Thinking

JSA emphasizes critical thinking and analytical skills through debates and discussions that require members to consider multiple perspectives and evaluate arguments based on evidence.

Networking and Friendships

Participation in a JSA club provides an excellent opportunity to make friends who share similar interests and passions. Networking with like-minded individuals can be invaluable for future educational and career opportunities.

College and Scholarship Opportunities

JSA involvement can enhance a student’s college application and provide access to scholarships specifically designated for Junior Statesmen Program participants.

Ultimately, JSA clubs aim to create a space where students can develop their civic engagement skills, gain a deeper understanding of political and social issues, and prepare themselves for active citizenship and leadership roles in the future.

Female teacher addressing students in a classroom

How Can You Join the Junior Statesmen Program?

Joining the Junior Statesmen of America (JSA) while you are in high school is a straightforward process. Here are the general steps to get started:

Find a Junior Statesmen Program Chapter

Start by identifying if there is a JSA chapter at your high school or in your local area. You can usually find this information on your school’s website, or you can inquire with teachers, guidance counselors, or fellow students who might already be involved with JSA.

Contact the Chapter Advisor or Leadership

Once you’ve identified a JSA chapter, get in touch with the chapter advisor or student leaders. They can provide you with information about meeting times, membership requirements, and upcoming events.

Attend Meetings and Events

Attend JSA club meetings, events, and activities. This will give you a chance to get a feel for the club, meet other members, and see if it aligns with your interests and goals.

Pay Membership Dues (if required):

Some JSA chapters may require members to pay a membership fee or dues. Be sure to inquire about any associated costs and payment methods.

Participate Actively

Once you’ve joined, actively participate in club activities, discussions, debates, and events. Engaging in JSA activities will help you make the most of your membership and gain valuable experiences.

Explore Leadership Opportunities

As you become more involved with the Junior Statesmen Program, consider taking on leadership roles within the club, such as president, vice president, or secretary. This can be a great way to develop leadership skills and contribute to the club’s success.

Attend JSA Conventions

Depending on your chapter’s resources and opportunities, you may have the chance to attend regional or national JSA conventions. These events offer a broader platform for debates, discussions, and networking.

a young woman interviewing a male athelete

Stay Informed

Attend their Virtual Conventions! You don’t need to be a member to join JSA’s virtual events. Make sure to sign up in your high school state or chapter.

Each academic year, students in every state coordinate three significant, extended conventions—namely, Fall State, Winter Congress, and Spring State—that assemble chapters to address the issues that have the most significant impact on them.

Stay informed about JSA news and updates through the organization’s official website and communication channels.

Junior Statesmen Program often provides resources, scholarship opportunities, and information about national conventions on its website.

Engage in Civic Activities

Beyond club meetings, consider getting involved in civic activities, such as voter registration drives, community service projects, and advocacy efforts, which are often organized by JSA chapters.

You can join the Junior Statesmen Program while you are in high school! The organization primarily targets high school students who are interested in politics, government, and civic engagement.

JSA provides an excellent opportunity to learn about the democratic process, engage in meaningful discussions, and develop leadership and critical thinking skills.

Keep in mind that the specific requirements and procedures for joining a JSA chapter may vary depending on your school or region, so it’s essential to reach out to the local chapter for precise information on how to get involved.

Students are walking into the universities.

Summer Experiences with JSA Summer Programs

Joining the JSA’s summer activities is a great way to start being involved!

JSA summer programs offer immersive educational experiences that involve students in college-level coursework, collaborative projects, and chances for activism.

These programs aim to provide students with a distinctive outlook on the significant challenges confronting the United States today. Here are some summer experiences at JSA that you should be looking forward to:

Burd Institute on Media & Politics

The Gene A. Burd Institute on Media & Politics offers a one-week residential summer program (also available virtually) for high school students in grades 9-12.

This program introduces students to journalism and then engages them in discussions and projects related to political and advocacy communication.

Participants have opportunities to collaborate on activities like analyzing media bias, writing editorial content, creating podcasts and videos, and developing political communication plans and events.

The program also includes interactions with media professionals from various backgrounds.

Young Women’s Leadership Institute

The Young Women’s Leadership Institute (YWLI) is a one-week residential summer program that is also available in a virtual format.

The Junior State of America believes that leadership is a skill that can be cultivated through education, self-reflection, and practice.

YWLI offers students the opportunity to explore the history of women’s leadership in the United States, engage in hands-on community organizing and action planning, and discover their potential as leaders in their communities.

Students at YWLI have the privilege of hearing from accomplished women who are currently leading on important issues in the country.

Past speakers and presenters have included notable figures such as Ambassador Susan Rice, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Mayor London Breed, and more.

This program is designed for high school girls in grades 9-12, with incoming 9th graders also eligible to participate.

students listening and talking to male teacher

Stern Civics Immersion Program

The Stern Civics Immersion Program is a residential summer program that spans three weeks and is also available in a virtual format.

The Civics Immersion Program by the Junior State of America is crafted to actively engage high school students with the most urgent challenges confronting our democracy today.

It encourages them to move beyond their differences and concentrate on taking action-oriented steps towards solutions.

Participants gain a comprehensive understanding of crucial issues directly from policymakers who shape public policies, and they apply the knowledge acquired to brainstorm ideas for making a tangible impact in their communities.

Previous course offerings have covered topics such as Environmental Justice, Global Poverty, Inequality and Justice, and Design Thinking for Community Problem Solving.

In addition to their primary course of study each summer, all students are required to take a supplementary course focused on Argumentation and the Use of Evidence.

The Civics Immersion program is designed for high school students in grades 9-12. Incoming 9th graders are also eligible to attend.

The Civics Institute Micronesia

The Civics Institute Micronesia, part of the Junior State of America, is tailored to engage high school students with the most urgent challenges facing our democracy today.

It encourages young minds to transcend their differences and concentrate on taking action-oriented steps towards solutions.

Participants develop a comprehensive understanding of critical issues directly from influential decision-makers who shape public policies.

They then apply the knowledge they gain to generate ideas for making a tangible impact in their local communities.

During the program, students will delve into the concepts of “the media” and democracy, exploring how their interaction influences society.

The course will scrutinize real-world instances of media representations, production, and political communication, both in the Pacific Islands and the United States.

Students will develop the ability to analyze diverse forms of storytelling and meaning-making across print, broadcast, and digital media platforms.

The class will offer a comprehensive exploration of the relationship between the media and politics, as well as the role of the First Amendment and journalism as the fourth estate.

The Civics Institute Micronesia is designed for high school students in grades 9-11.

Group of high school students sitting in classroom and writing in notebooks.

How can I apply for the JSA Summer Programs?

To apply for JSA Summer Programs, you should use their online platform, JSAConnect. Initially, you need to establish a JSAConnect account. On JSAConnect, students can register, review their invoices, and make payments conveniently.

It’s essential to settle the fees before the program commences to secure attendance.

Is JSA membership required for participating in Summer Programs?

No, it is not required. Summer Experiences are available to all high school students in grades 9-12.

Are there scholarships offered for JSA Summer Experiences?

Absolutely! The Junior State of America is dedicated to ensuring that its programs are accessible to anyone interested. Scholarships are accessible for all of their summer programs, and students can apply for scholarships when submitting their program applications.

What are the Benefits of Joining JSA?

Joining the Junior State of America can offer a multitude of advantages for high school students, and it can certainly bolster your college applications. Participation in JSA fosters civic engagement, encourages leadership development, and cultivates strong public speaking and debate skills.

It also promotes critical thinking and analytical abilities, all of which are highly valued by colleges and universities.

Beyond these skills, JSA provides a platform for networking, allowing students to connect with peers and mentors nationwide, which can be advantageous for college and career opportunities.

Moreover, being part of the Junior Statesmen Program keeps students informed about current events, policy issues, and political developments, which can be particularly useful in college classes and discussions.

The Junior Statesmen Program Impact

Participation in the Junior State of America equips students with the skills and confidence to represent their chapters, regions, and states fairly and ethically.

Their enthusiasm for citizenship and democracy is contagious and extends to friends, families, and communities.

JSA participants often pursue roles in city council, state legislatures, and even in Washington, D.C., embodying the spirit of empowered citizen influencers for democracy.

What Do JSA Participants Say?

  • 100% are likely to vote and actively participate in future elections.
  • 80% credit JSA for improving their knowledge of domestic and foreign affairs.
  • 73% acknowledge JSA’s positive impact on their public speaking and interactions with adults.
  • 87% express interest in participating in local government events.

Final Thoughts

The Junior Statesmen Program has consistently empowered generations of young minds, instilling in them a profound sense of civic responsibility and a deep appreciation for the democratic values that define our nation.

Their impact extends far beyond the halls of high school, reaching city councils, state legislatures, and even the chambers of the nation’s capital.

In the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

The Junior Statesmen Program exemplifies this spirit, nurturing the next generation of leaders who will uphold the principles of democracy and work tirelessly to create a better tomorrow.

So, if you’re a high school student with a yearning to make a meaningful difference, consider joining the Junior Statesmen Program!

If you need advice getting into pre-college programs, consider speaking with college admission experts, such as those available at AdmissionSight. With over a decade of experience, our team has successfully assisted students in navigating the competitive admissions process, helping them secure acceptance at some of the world’s leading universities. Don’t hesitate to schedule your first consultation appointment with us today!


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