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Wauwatosa alderman's daughter accepted as Senate Scholar

McBride one of two students in state to win award

Dec. 12, 2012

Politics run in the McBride family. Gillian McBride, daughter of Alderman Dennis McBride, has been accepted as a Senate Youth Scholar.

The acceptance confirms her as one of two students in Wisconsin to achieve the award, which grants students an all-expenses-paid trip to meet with lawmakers in Washington, D.C., and a $5,000 scholarship.

Gillian, who isn't old enough to vote, wasn't handed the award on a silver platter. To win the scholarship, a student must obtain an application through a school official, must currently be serving in an elected or appointed capacity for a student, local or educational organization and must go through a phone interview with the educational social studies consultant for the state.

Gillian was extremely nervous when she picked up the phone, but the subject of discussion and demeanor of the interviewers put her at ease.

"It was better than I thought it would be," she said. "They asked me a lot of questions about my leadership and my contributions to the community, my interest in political science and my future goals. They were very friendly and they made it a very nice interview. I was talking about things I was interested in too."

The McBride family helped to plant the seeds of political awareness in Gillian by having political kitchen-table discussions and readings and infusing political debate into their everyday lives.

A self-proclaimed history buff, Gillian was never too much for politics, save for kitchen-table talks with her parents. That is, until she became involved in the We the People program at Wauwatosa East. The program, designed to foster political astuteness in high school students, generates discussion on current events and how they relate to the constitution.

"I discovered I was really interested in the foundations of our government and the way the political system works," she said. "I found it's not so black and white, it incorporates all sorts of disciplines, it has a lot to do with psychology. It's really fascinating and the way the American government was founded."

With hopes of serving the public either through a nonprofit or a publicly held office, Gillian is excited to go to Washington. While there, she wants to pick the brains of the top chosen students on political issues and hopefully meet a U.S. Supreme Court justice. She will also hear senate delegations, bringing her one step closer to her ultimate dream of being a senator.

Outside of school Gillian is involved with mission trips via St. Matthews Lutheran Church. The trips have taken her to help Hurricane Katrina victims and elsewhere across America. She and her parents are also avid fans of the movie "Lincoln," having watched it multiple times.

Gillian's mother Karen Barry stressed the importance of public schools in her daughter's education.

"The moral of the story is that there is money out there and opportunities out there," Barry said. "Kids need to start grabbing for these things."

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