Burnsville High School junior Alyse Dees has always had an interest in government and how it works, so joining Youth in Government (YIG) was an easy decision for her. That interest turned into leadership at the Minnesota YIG Model Assembly in Minneapolis in January, where she was elected to be presiding officer of the National Issues Forum at next year’s model assembly. It’s one of just 16 major student roles for the entire state.
Youth in Government is a nationwide program by the YMCA. The Minnesota branch of YIG has 1,600 students in grades 8-12 throughout the state gathering at the state capital in St. Paul and at the Hilton in Minneapolis. There, they can see how the state government works in a realistic and complex simulation by arguing court cases, debating state and national issues and learning how to agree or disagree respectfully. This year’s Burnsville contingent included 85 members, one of the largest delegations.
“I feel fantastic about being elected to this position,” Alyse said. “I love the National Issues Forum, so being able to run the program and making sure that everyone gets to enjoy themselves is what I am looking forward to.”
Alyse has been involved in Youth in Government since she was in eighth grade. She says she doesn’t see herself working in the government or in political science in the future, but does enjoy being involved in government.
BHS senior Olivia Brammer served as the delegation leader for Burnsville this year.
“Alyse has continuously proved herself as a leader through appointed positions and desire to lead an entire program area,” she said. “She and her campaign team worked tirelessly to get her elected. Because of this, people saw her as someone who is responsible and an effective leader.”
Olivia added that Alyse is constantly striving to learn more about how the government works and how she can play an active role. Her guidance counselor, Rebecca Akerson, agrees.
“Alyse is passionate about being an informed community member and citizen,” she said. “She enjoys staying educated about government issues and politics. While it may not be her career path, she is interested in staying active and having a voice in government decisions.”
Justin Lassen, a Youth in Government representative from the YMCA, also noted that Alyse truly cares about what is happening in YIG and is not a delegate who sits quietly on the sidelines.
“She is active and involved in seeking great change,” he said. “I do believe her activism and pride for government will always stay with her.”
Learn more about Youth In Government by going to www.ymcamn.org/locations/youth_in_government.