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Dombroskie Selected for Elite Fellowship

State High junior Maya Dombroskie
State High junior Maya Dombroskie was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day — until she checked her email.

 

The news changed everything.

 

Dombroskie learned that she had been selected for the elite Bill of Rights Institute 2024 Student Fellowship program, one of 25 students from across the country participating in a months-long civics study program.

 

“I was absolutely flabbergasted,” she said. 

 

Her recent acceptance means that, from now through May, she’ll meet online with her cohorts twice a month for discussions about political, social and constitutional issues, sparked by assigned readings, and individual research-based presentations. In June, the students will take capstone educational trips to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

 

The Bill of Rights Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works to advance civic and history education.

 

“At the Bill of Rights Institute, we teach civics and we equip students to live the ideals of a free and just society,” Institute President and CEO David J. Bobb said in a statement. “Through our Student Fellowship program, we help students develop the knowledge and skills to become engaged citizens and civic leaders in their communities.”

 

Fellows were chosen through an application process that included faculty nominations and  essays on topics such as leadership and the characteristics of good citizenship. Dombroskie said the program’s focus inspired her to apply.

 

“I’m taking AP Government and AP Comparative Government with Mr. (Andy) Merritt, and they’ve been my favorite classes I’ve ever taken and have got me really interested in studying political science in college,” she said. “I love exploring what our Constitution meant when it was written and how we can adapt it to better fit our society and its needs today. I’m just interested in political discourse and having those conversations, so it seemed like a really good fit.”

 

So far, the fellows have met once, beginning the program’s theme of exploring what it means to live in a free society. Even at this early stage, Dombroskie has been impressed by the intellectual depth of the discussions.

 

“There’s such a broad range on the political spectrum,” she said. “There are students who lean conservative, and there are ones who are more liberal, but when we have conversations it almost doesn’t seem like there’s that spectrum or differences at all, because we’re just discussing the materials and the ideas for what they are and not necessarily like choosing an idea because it’s Democratic or Republican.”

 

Such exchanges, she said, may prepare the fellows to be informed voters and possibly future political and civic leaders by teaching them to be open-minded, critical thinkers.

 

“Everything in politics could be so much more effective if there were more bipartisan solutions,” she said. “I think the first step toward reaching bipartisan solutions is having bipartisan conversations, and that’s really what the fellowship is doing.”

 

Story by Chris Rosenblum

Photo by Nabil K. Mark

Published Feb. 7, 2024