Colwell receives Award of Excellence and scholarship

His bill was not selected for discussion on the house floor, but Mark Colwell, Hays senior, was chosen by his peers as the first-ever recipient of the American Youth Scholarship Foundation's Committee on Veterans' Affairs Award of Excellence, which includes a $500 scholarship.

"We followed Mr. Colwell closely at the event and with every step were impressed with his commitment, maturity, patriotism, intellect and leadership qualities," said Aurelia Figueroa, founder and executive director of the American Youth Scholarship Foundation. "From the very beginning, he established himself as one of our best student representatives."

Colwell represented the First District of Kansas during the inaugural session of the United States Model House of Representatives, presented by the AYSF.

"The idea was to invite one college student from each of the 435 districts in America to represent their districts, propose legislation, talk to people from their regions and try to simulate the actual House of Representatives as best as possible," said Colwell.

Colwell was assigned to the Veterans Affairs Committee, on which Rep. Jerry Moran, [R-First], serves in the actual House of Representatives.

"Each of us in the committee was to propose legislation for our specific area. I wrote a bill proposing a grant program for private corporations to offer transportation for veterans in rural areas where there are limited VA hospitals," said Colwell.

Two days of debating the bills that made it through the selection process were followed by a session where every member of every committee could speak on the House floor.
"My committee met in the actual Committee on Veterans Affairs room. The whole assembly met in the Canon Caucus Room," he said.

On the final day of the workshop, scholarships were awarded to one member of each committee.

"Our committee was allowed to vote," said Colwell. "In other committees, the head person chose the scholarship winner. I was honored that my peers chose me. I thought there were others who were as worthy, if not more worthy, to receive the scholarship."

Colwell has been invited back for next year's program with a choice of any leadership position. He is uncertain if he will return because he plans to graduate in December.

"I hope to either encourage somebody from our school to attend or to go back and serve on the same committee as a leader," he said.

If Colwell chooses not to participate, he said, "I hope that somebody from Fort Hays State University can attend this program every year and represent our school well. I think our university offers a number of exceptional disciplines and that students from across the university could have meaningful and successful participation in future programs."

After graduation, Colwell, a political science major, plans to pursue employment and eventually obtain a graduate degree.

"I want to do something that makes me happy, that's exciting everyday, where I can meet good people and make a difference in the world," he said.

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