Teen’s initiative yields pleasant surprise
Story by Diana Whittle
In an age of rising tuition costs,
Johnny Coronel is every parent’s
dream of a college-bound student:
He initiated his own search for funds,
and struck pay dirt.
While navigating the Internet
for clues to available scholarships,
Coronel, a senior at Corona del Sol
High School, landed on the website for
Arizona’s Department of Education,
where he discovered a link to a U.S.
Senate Youth Program.
With a strong interest in politics
and history, he realized he might have
found the right match.
Each delegate receives a $5,000
scholarship that can be applied to any
U.S. college, as well as an all-expensespaid,
week-long trip to Washington,
Coronel applied for the program
and recently learned he is one of
only two students selected who will
represent Arizona as a delegate at
the 52nd annual Washington Week
program, March 8 -15. The other is
from the Pinetop/Lakeside area.
This will be the second trip Coronel
has made to the D.C. area; his first was
“Up until that point, I wasn’t much
interested in politics, but making
the trip to the capital awakened my
interest in following the news. Since then
I have read many history and political
Coronel hopes to attend ASU next fall
and plans to major in political science. He
is anxious to learn more about the federal
government, and hopes the upcoming trip
will help him to shape his career.
“I am not sure whether or not I want to
be a politician or a teacher, but I know that
the trip will give me exposure to people that
I see all the time in the news.”
While in D.C., Coronel says the schedule
will be jam-packed with classes, viewing
sessions of Congress and the U.S. Senate,
and visiting the Pentagon. The high point
will be a luncheon where the students have
a chance to meet the senators in person.
The Senate Youth Program was
established in 1962 as a way for students
to gain inside exposure to the inner
workings of government, and to be able to
watch their elected officials in action. It is
sponsored by the U.S. Senate and funded
and administered by the William Randolph
Coronel has lived in Tempe his whole
life. He is the fourth of five brothers who
range from 14 to 25.
His father is an immigrant from
Venezuela who came to the U.S. to attend
ASU, where he majored in engineering and
met Johnny’s mother, Joyce, a political
science major who now is a reporter for the
Catholic News Sun.
“Johnny has worked really hard to be
where he’s at, and I am extremely proud of
him for looking for the scholarships,” said
“Of my five sons, he is the most goal
driven. I remember a few years back, I
came into his room and found a list he
made of his 100 life goals, which I thought
was pretty impressive.”
The student delegates must score high
on a written test and undergo an interview
process. Another requirement is that the
students demonstrate leadership through
serving in an elected capacity for their
student body or in a club. Coronel is a vice
president of Corona’s Red Kettle Club that
works with the Salvation Army to raise
money for families in need.
In addition to outstanding leadership
abilities and a commitment to volunteer
work, the student delegates rank
academically in the top of their class.
After their week in D.C., many continue
to excel, often developing impressive
qualities directed toward public service.
For example, notable alumni of the
Senate Youth Program include Karl Rove,
former adviser to President Bush, and the
current governor of New Jersey, Chris
Whatever path Coronel chooses in the
future, he is planning on absorbing all he
can in D.C.
“I am excited to learn more about the
inner workings of our government because
our system is the best anywhere,” said
“I do appreciate all the people who have
helped me get to the place where I can take
advantage of this opportunity.”