DANBURY, Conn. – Danbury High School junior Alexandra Prendergast got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to serve at the hub of American politics in fall and early winter when she worked as a U.S. Senate page.
Prendergast was appointed by U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy and spent five months in Washington, D.C., in the Senate Page Program. She was Murphy’s first page since he was elected to office in 2012, and was one of 30 students from across the country selected to participate in the prestigious program. After a competitive application process, she was chosen to participate in the program, which lasted from September through January.
“It was an amazing opportunity and I’m so glad that I got to participate in this program. I had an incredible time,” Prendergast said.
An active member of her student council and the Key Club, Prendergast said she is drawn to activities that involve leadership and giving back to the community. She applied to the program because she thought that spending time with legislators in Washington would help her learn how to become a better leader. She was helped along the application process by guidance counselor Karen Chance, Principal Gary Bocaccio and Associate Principal Meghan Martins.
She spent time on the Senate floor and saw the closing of the 113th Congress and the opening of the 114th Congress. She also got to witness an address by the Ukrainian president to a joint session of Congress, which she said was one of the highlights.
Her responsibilities included delivering communications and documents between offices, bringing senators water before speeches, and generally helping out with any task that they were asked to do. The students also had to attend early morning classes, and were expected to complete their assignments even if their page responsibilities kept them on the Senate floor until midnight.
“It was extremely rigorous,” Prendergast said. “But it was very worthwhile because I obtained a lot of new skills.”
Among the skills she learned is how to better manage her time with all of her responsibilities. She said she also gained people skills, especially when it comes to discussing political matters in a polite and courteous manner. U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate majority leader in the 113th Congress, told her that important qualities of a leader include being kind and working hard, which she has taken to heart. She also got an inside look at how America’s legislators operate.
“If there’s anything I learned, it’s that the lawmakers in Washington, D.C., work extremely hard and really care about what they do,” she said. “Though they may express different opinions, in most cases they believe that what they are doing is best for the American public.”
She was also very excited for the chance to work with Murphy.
“He’s so passionate and has gotten a lot done. It was an honor to work with him and an honor to be his first page. He was very kind to me and so supportive,” she said. “He’s doing a fantastic job representing the people of Connecticut.”
Now that she has returned to Danbury, she is starting to look at her college options and think about her future. She has a strong interest in medicine, and helped develop an app called Mediminder that reminds people to take their medication. She hopes to combine medicine and politics in a way that she can help others, and said she may be interested in running for office somewhere down the road.
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