A local student’s love of studying government paid off when he was selected to serve as a state delegate at the nation’s capitol.
Nathan Dethloff, a Lone Grove senior, was one of two Oklahoma students selected for the United States Senate Youth Program. Next month, he’ll travel to Washington D.C. to meet with senators, cabinet members and other student delegates from around the country. He will also receive a $10,000 scholarship from The Hearst Foundations.
“I’m honored to be one of 104 kids chosen,” Dethloff said. “I’m excited to meet kids who are also passionate about the government, that had to go through the same steps that I did.”
Two American students from each state, two from D.C. and two from overseas are selected each year, though each state’s selection process is a bit different. Dethloff, a self-described politics fanboy who watches C-Span in his spare time, said he sees policymaking as an essential part of human interaction.
“I want to be involved in policy because policy is the means by which you make things better for people,” Dethloff said. “If you’re involved in policy and government, the people who you help the most are your neighbors, the people right around you.”
To earn the spot, Dethloff had to take a test, write an essay, then prepare for an interview where a panel questioned him on the essay he’d written. Dethloff chose to write about the electoral college, defending the structure as necessary.
 “They wanted a basis in knowledge of government, someone who could articulate their thoughts well, and they wanted someone who’s presentable to go to Washington D.C. and meet all of these people,” Dethloff said.
He said he studied for the test, which focused on state and federal government, vigorously beforehand. The test also had a written portion that required him to analyze political speeches.
He said he applied last year, but didn’t advance. While he was disappointed, he said the experience gave him some insight into what to expect this year.
“I want to gain more knowledge of government, but I already do that,” Dethloff said. “A lot of it is analytical, you can read books and research, but you can’t just experience it. To have the opportunity to go and have group time with a United States senator is incredible.”
During the visit, delegates will meet with senators, have dinner at the State Department and meet President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Dethloff, who’s connected with other current and former student delegates though Facebook since being selected, said he’s excited for every part of the trip, but he hopes delegates will get the chance to meet a Supreme Court Justice.
“Ideally, I would love to meet Clarence Thomas,” Dethloff said.
Dethloff serves as Lone Grove’s National Honor Society president, is a member of student council, and a member of Ardmore Youth Leadership. He also worked as a page for the Oklahoma House of Representatives last year, where he was named page of the week. For now, he said his plan is to attend Oklahoma State University and major in agricultural economics.