BOWLING GREEN - DeVante Hudson said he never realized all the time, work and energy public officials put into serving their constituents.
Hudson, 17, who will start his senior year at Liberty High School this fall, said since he started serving as governor for the Buckeye Boys State - a program sponsored by the Ohio American Legion - last week he realizes the importance of every decision each public official faces every working day.
"I never realized how serious everything they do really is, how their decisions affect people," explained Hudson, of Youngstown, during a telephone conversation last week. "So much of it is about choosing and hoping you make the right choice."
Liberty High School student DeVante Hudson was sworn in last week at Bowling Green State University as governor of Buckeye Boys State. With him is Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Brown, left. The program is a nine-day, hands-on experience that give participants a closer look at the workings of city, county and state government.
The past several days, Hudson has been serving in his post at Bowling Green State University, where the Buckeye Boys State program convenes each year. The program is a nine-day, hands-on experience that provides participants with a closer look at the workings of city, county and state government.
According to information on the program's website, Buckeye Boys State, established in 1936, is the largest Boys State program in the country. Boys State programs throughout the nation are sponsored by the American Legion, the nation's largest veterans organization. The American Legion Buckeye Boys State program is sponsored by the Ohio American Legion, the largest veterans organization in Ohio.
William Strong, public relations director for Buckeye Boys State, explained that the program allows participants to learn about government through a non-partisan, objective educational approach.
"It's a worthwhile experience that changes how many of these young men think," Strong explained. "It's quite a program. I've heard people say when they come out of Boys State, these young men know more about state government than 75 percent of the general public. That says a lot."
Each year some 1,300 boys representing high schools across the state are chosen to serve in various public offices. The program gives them an opportunity "to serve" in the offices just as their elected adult counterparts do. Participants also are provided opportunities to meet their adult counterparts.
As part of the mock government program, the boys stay in residence halls on the campus and participate in elections as members of one of two parties, the Nationalists and Federalists. The student "officials" then serve in the seats they are elected to.
More than 83,000 individuals have experienced the Buckeye Boys State program since it was established in 1936. The program has been conducted at Bowling Green State University since 1978.
Hudson, the son of Leo and Cerissa Hudson of Youngstown, said that before he made the trip to Bowling Green he planned to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta to study psychology and possibly pursue a career in counseling. However, he said now he's considering studying political science, attending law school and running for public office.
At his high school, Hudson is involved in student government, National Honor Society, football and track teams, speech and debate program and is a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
"I like to keep myself well-rounded," he said. "I like to be involved and make a difference when I can.
He explained he had to write an essay and send it to the American Legion to be considered for this year's program.
"I'm really glad they gave me the opportunity," he said. "It's been great. It's been intense. You just get right in there. You have a job to do and you do it."