Illiana is part of a nationwide student enrichment program sponsored by the Close Up Foundation. The program is a week- long experience in the nation’s capitol. During the week students engage in workshops, debate, listen to nationally recognized speakers, meet with members of Congress (or Congressional Aids) and do some general site seeing. Throughout the week students will spend time with students from different parts of the country and develop friendships that last for many years.
Eight students are chosen by the History Department from the Sophomore class each year. They participate in the program the following year (as juniors). Selection is done by a process of requiring students to write an essay. From the top essays 12 are selected for interviews. The top 8 interviewees are given a scholarship for the program. Two-thirds of the cost is covered by the scholarship which draws its money from the Ladies Auxiliary Committee and the Kay Schuuringa Foundation. Students are required to fund the remaining 1/3rd.
This year’s participants not only conducted their studies in Washington but also had the opportunity to visit Colonial Williamsburg for two days. A highlight of the trip was hearing Chris Lu (President Obama’s Cabinet Secretary) explain his work in the President’s administration. A second highlight was the opportunity to visit the Supreme Court and meet with Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor. The Justice then set up a special behind-the-scenes tour of the Court. Students also had the opportunity to tour the Republican National Headquarters and the American Studies Institute. After one last visit to the Library of Congress, the students flew home full of new experiences and insights.