Corman turns page to political future

Published 3:09 pm Wednesday, September 28, 2005

By By Janet Little Cooper
Escambia Academy senior, Ellen Corman, 17, is likely the only teenager who can name at least ten United States senators with ease. The Atmore resident observes politics with a passion and a purpose for her future. She has spent a portion of her high school years walking the floors of the United States Senate in the nation's capital.
"I went on a school trip in the eighth grade to Washington D.C.," Corman said, "We sat in on a session in Congress. That really peaked my interest."
Corman's interest in politics continued to grow over the years. She traveled to England the next year where she went went to Cambridge University for three classes. During that period of growth in her life, Corman realized her interest in politics was ever present.
Corman heard about the United States Senate Page Program through a college friend of her brothers.
Corman completed the appropriate steps needed to qualify for the Alabama House and Senate Page Program. She was appointed by Senator Shelby to work for three days during her ninth and tenth grade years of school.
Senate Pages duties consist primarily of delivery of correspondence and legislative material within the Congressional Complex. Other duties include taking messages for members, calling them to the phone, preparing the chamber for Senate sessions, and carrying bills and amendments to the desk. A rotation system is practiced so that every Page has an opportunity to experience all areas of service.
Page eligibility is limited to juniors in high school who will be 16 or 17 on or before the date of appointment. Pages are required to live in the Daniel Webster Senate Page Residence, which is located two blocks from the capital. Pages share rooms with four to six occupants per room.
Pages meet some of the Nation's most prominent leaders and witness firsthand the political debates of the United States Senate.
"It was amazing," Corman, said, "It was mind-boggling being able to walk on the senate floor." Corman took her interest in politics from watching the senate proceedings as a spectator in the eighth grade, to actually participating in it at the Alabama House and Senate by casing the senate floor.
Once Corman completed her three – day stint in the Alabama Senate, she applied to be a page for the United States Senate. The position for page in the U.S. senate has a long waiting list of applicants who have to be a junior in high school. Corman was accepted in March of her tenth grade year and had to spend a year and a half in anticipation of her next political journey to the floor of the United States Senate.
Again Corman was appointed by Senator Shelby of Alabama to serve as a U.S. senate page. A Senator must sponsor senate Pages. There are 30 pages positions in the United States Senate, which serve its one hundred members; therefore, not all Senators are able to appoint Pages. Due to the limited number of positions and the volume or interested students, competition is keen and, unfortunately, not all students who seek a position can be accommodated.
"There is a huge difference between the Alabama House and the U.S. Senate," Corman said, "Alabama is so much smaller than the U.S. Senate. The issues are not as extensive in the Alabama senate either."
Corman spent three weeks of her summer working as a Page for the United States Senate.
She roomed with other pages from across the country in the Daniel Webster Senate Page Residence Hall.
"I was in absolute awe the first time I walked into the capital," Corman said, "It took some time for me to get use to being on the actual Senate floor. I was a little giddy."
Corman participated in a mini-orientation on her first day at the capital. According to Corman the experience was overwhelming at first, but she learned quickly that it was okay to ask for directions and assistance.
Corman was no t required to attend the Untied States Senate Page School due to her position being held during the summer terms. Pages who work within the school year are required to attend the accredited school. The Page School year consists of two semesters during the calendar year. The school provides the necessary requisites for a junior year course of study including mathematics, English, social studies, and science. It also offers a Field Studies program to assure each pupil's participation and exposure to the unique educational and cultural opportunities, which exist in the nation's Capital.
Corman worked two different shifts while in D.C. She was responsible for running errands and delivering essentials to the senator's offices as well as working the Senate floor.
"The atmosphere of being around all of these Senators and politicians was fantastic," Corman said, " I learned so much. It is definitely different from what you see on C-Span."
Corman was actually seen on the cable channel C-Span numerous times during her three-week employment at the Senate.
Corman was able to meet Vice President, Dick Cheney while she was working as well as hear a speech from the Prime Minister of India. Some of Corman's favorite senators are Senator Dole from N.C., Senator Thune of S.D. and Santorum of Pa.
According to Corman, Elizabeth Dole has always been an idol of hers for her conservative views.
"Any doubt I had before that I wanted to go into politic has been put to rest since working in Washington, D.C." Corman said.
Corman's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jim Corman, are glad that their daughter has found something she is passionate about. They are supportive of Corman's political efforts.
Corman plans to attend college upon graduating from Escambia Academy this May. She will major in the field of political science.
The S.G.A. (Student Government Association) president wants to pursue a career that will keep her behind the scenes.
"I would like to work in a non-profit think tank or maybe work on a campaign trail." Corman said.
If you are interested in applying for the Page Program position and you meet the requirements of junior status, 3.0 GPA, and 16 or 17 years of age, you should write a letter to your Senator requesting their consideration and asking what steps you should take in order to apply. Questions regarding the Senate Page Program should be directed to Ms. Elizabeth Roach, Director, United States Senate Page Program, United States, Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510-7248 or call (202) 228-1291.

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