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Asheville High School’s Elizabeth Greer Is Going to Washington
Less than five months stand between Elizabeth Greer and a high school diploma, but for the Asheville High School student, a “senior slump” is the farthest thing from her mind.
In fact, she’s one of only two students in the state chosen to represent North Carolina as a delegate to the United States Student Youth Program.
Greer will join Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis in the nation’s capital during the 57th USSYP, an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., where 104 of the nation's “most outstanding high school students - two from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity - participate in an intensive weeklong study of the federal government.”
From March 2nd - 9th, Greer will hear policy addresses by senators, cabinet members as well as officials from the State Department and the Department of Defense. Traditionally, delegates have also participated in a meeting with a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and the president of the United States.
“They haven’t given us the agenda yet,” explained Greer, “but I really want to meet Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan because female justices of the Supreme Court are the bomb dot com. I’m also excited to meet other students my age who are civic, policy, politically-minded people just like me.”
Greer is the President of both Asheville High School’s Student Government Association and National Honor Society.
She explained that she’s always been interested in politics and has tried to pursue positions that have a meaningful impact on her campus because “there’s a lot of issues in the world that student leaders can change.”
For example, while organizing the school’s Homecoming Dance, she kept coming back to the question of “How can we make it accessible for all students?”
Applying for a grant from the Asheville City Schools Foundation was her answer.
“We got it, and we were able to make the dance completely free for all students,” said Greer. “Anyone could come to it without having to pay for a ticket. It made it a lot easier for students, especially after going to the Homecoming Football Game. Having to pay for the tickets there along with food, drinks and candy added up. We wanted all students to have the chance to come to the dance without worrying about how to pay for it.”
Greer is also a leader of Asheville High/SILSA’s Speech and Debate Team. When she’s not practicing for Congress-Public Forum, she volunteers with Asheville Middle School’s In Real Life Youth Debate Team and collaborates with her peers on ways to make the club more accessible.
“Our practices are all after school, which might make it hard to join for students who ride the bus,” said Greer. Therefore, “I usually drive between three to five people home after practice just to make sure they can get there and have access to the team.”
Additionally, Greer has been an active member of Asheville High School’s Swim Team for four years and participates in AHS’s Girl Up Club, Math Honors Society and the Crossword Club. She also worked with the League of Women Voters of Asheville-Buncombe County to help register nearly 200 of her peers in Fall 2018.
Indeed, she certainly ticks off the necessary box of demonstrating “leadership by serving in elected or appointed positions…related to student government, education, public affairs and community service.”
For Greer, the USSYP application process officially began in August 2018. It required her to write several short answers and an essay detailing whether or not she believes the Constitution and its democratic values are still applicable to modern society, despite the fact that they were conceived over 200 years ago.
In November, she found out she was a North Carolina finalist, prompting her to interview with USSYP alumni and undergo what she’s described as “the hardest test I’ve ever taken.”
“There were so many in-depth questions,” said Greer. “For example, they’d give you a passage and you had to tell what politician said them or know the answer to specific facts like ‘Which two presidents died on the same day?’”
All her hard work, though, was certainly worth it, as Greer discovered she was selected to represent North Carolina just before Winter Break. In addition to earning her spot to Washington, she will receive a $10,000 scholarship good for any college in the nation.
After turning her tassel this June, Greer knows she wants to pursue a degree in Political Science with a minor in Arabic. However, she’s still deciding between the 10 universities she’s applied to. However, she “definitely wants to work in public service.”
Greer has been a part of Asheville City Schools since kindergarten and credits her success to its passionate faculty who pushed her to work hard and try her best.
“I went to Ira B. Jones Elementary, Asheville Middle and now Asheville High School, and it’s always been this community of people who encouraged me to engage and be active. Just think; every morning I get to take AP Government. I get to sit down and learn about the Constitution and federal policies and how the things we do affect our country,” said Greer. “Asheville City Schools is a community that’s nurturing and engaged, and I really, really love it.
This is #TheACSWay!