Cora Chaney spent a summer week writing and debating legislation in Washington, D.C.
She’s not a Congresswoman (yet). She’s an Idaho high school senior who won the prestigious opportunity to participate in Girls Nation, a trip provided by the American Legion Auxiliary to guide girls to become “stewards of freedom, democracy and patriotic citizens.”
Girls Nation 2019 hosted 99 teens from around the county to participate in mock Senate sessions where they wrote, caucused and debated legislation.
“I don’t think it hit me until the fourth day when I was sitting in one of the most expensive rooms in the White House,” said Chaney, reflecting on her summer learning adventure.
Chaney, a rising senior at the Ambrose School in Meridian, first participated at Girls State, a week-long summer leadership and citizenship program with 225 other Idaho girls.
Chaney was elected Idaho’s Chief Justice of the Supreme Court – a fitting position considering her years of experience in The Ambrose School’s mock trial group.
Her performance on the Supreme Court earned one of two slots representing Idaho at Girls Nation.
At Girls Nation, Chaney wrote a bill based on an actual bill cosponsored by Idaho Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo — S.B. 903, the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act. Chaney’s bill focused on the need to develop nuclear reactor technology.
Chaney urged, “Our state is well-positioned to be a leader in nuclear energy development thanks to the Idaho National Laboratory.”
Chaney’s bill didn’t make it out of committee due to time constraints.
“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised— committees are where bills go to die. I got a real taste of Washington, D.C.,” she said.
While in Washington, D.C., Chaney visited Arlington Cemetery, the Supreme Court building and she met Vice President Mike Pence.
“I realized then that I was experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Chaney.
Chaney aspires to become a psychiatric physician assistant and start a counseling-psychiatric practice specializing in supporting children with trauma.
“The hands-on experience will change how I view and participate in our democratic institutions in the future,” she said. “I wish everyone had the opportunity to experience it.”