As you walk through the towering wooden doors of the entrance to the Texas State Capitol, and make your way into the grand foyer looking up in awe, of the dome reaching into the sky, you may feel excitement, pride, and a little bit overwhelmed. This weekend, April 21-24, 2022, student delegates participating in a variety of programs in Texas Youth and Government at the 75th YMCA Texas Youth and Government State Conference in the capitol building in Austin, Texas, felt this. 

Onward and upward, the student delegates view the dome of the Capitol building from the ground floor. 

Continuing to make your way down the Capitol halls, you see the student delegates in the judicial section debating in mock trial, student legislators proposing bills or joint resolutions for passing in the House and Senate chambers, the State Affairs Forum raising solutions to current issues, the governor’s cabinet and lobbyists working with the Youth Governor to lobby for bills or issues, and the media students documenting it all. 

While many delegates love the State Conference, it can be a daunting experience for many first timers. Amarys Rodriguez and Hannah Robles, both from Sanders Law Magnet at Townview, described their first impressions of the conference in the Capitol to be “overwhelming and huge”. Robles adds, “I got lost for a long time. I almost started crying.”

This is Rodriguez’s and Robles’s first time being in person for the state conference since last year’s conference was online due to the spread of COVID-19. While they struggled with the overwhelming aspect of the conference at the Capitol, when asked about their overall experience with the State Conference Amarys said, “I loved it. I really hope to be back next year.” Robles continued by saying, “I’m glad this conference was postponed so we can do it in person.” 

Rodriguez and Robles both recommended for any of the first time delegates to: “Carry a map, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Stick with someone who has been to State before.” They concluded with, “The system in place by the YG definitely makes it more enjoyable.” 

For first time delegates, while the State Conference may be challenging, the experience is rewarding. By the end of the Conference, delegates have grown in ways not possible in the average school day setting.

Written by: Kristen Henderson