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A senior at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station’s Matthew C. Perry High School recently received a $5,000 college scholarship from the U.S. Senate Youth Program and got a chance to make a special visit to the Pentagon.

Cathleen Cauguiran, 17, saw many sights during her week-long, all-expense-paid trip. The program brings students to Washington to view how the government works.

“It was very exciting for me,” she said of last month’s trip. “It was … a chance for me to explore a location away from home much like I will have to get used to when I go to college.” Cauguiran said.

She plans to attend the University of Southern California in Los Angeles this fall, majoring in broadcast journalism and international relations in the fall.

“Most of the time each day was mapped out for us,” she said. “We visited places such as the Pentagon, Supreme Court, Senate, all the memorials and the White House. I got to meet the president, Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), Sen. [Hillary] Clinton (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. [Richard] Myers and the secretary of education, Rodney Paige.”

Cauguiran, daughter of Senior Chief Petty Officer Arnel and Sally Cauguiran, said the Pentagon visit “was the best part simply because my father is a career member of the U.S. Navy. So when I was there, that gave me a tremendous sense of pride in my country and my family.”

This year 15 students from the Pacific region entered the competition in the U.S. Senate Youth Program.

Each school selected its top candidate for the district competition.

“The United States Senate Youth Program is sponsored annually by the Hearst Foundation and is open to any high school junior or senior serving in an elected student government or class officer/representative position,” said Mary Hibbs, a spokeswoman for DODDS Pacific.

In the district competition for the scholarship and Washington trip, Hibbs said, the Pacific Area selected Cauguiran from mainland Japan over Andrew Soroka from Okinawa’s Kadena High School and Anna Bianco from Seoul High School.

Cauguiran is one of two students from Department of Defense Education Activity districts worldwide chosen to take part in the program.

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