Leading the way to Capitol Hill

Rosette Gonzales

Ana Asatouri loves working with money and people so this summer she’s

a cashier at McCambridge Recreation Center.

But one day she hopes to run a company of her own.


To help her develop leadership skills, she’ll spend 10 days in

Washington, D.C., this month to learn what it takes to be one of

tomorrow’s leaders.

Asatouri, 18, will join 400 other high school students from around


the country for the National Young Leaders Conference in the nation’s

capital, from Saturday to July 19 as they build leadership skills

through mock Congress and Supreme Court meetings, workshops and

listening to speakers working in politics, media and international


“That’s the main goal in my life: to be a leader,” Asatouri said.

The 4.0 grade-point average student at Burbank High School has dreams

of being the president of a large organization or business, though


she admits her interest in politics is limited.

But when she heard about the National Young Leaders Conference she

applied the next day and used $3,000 saved from part-time jobs to pay

for it.

“I want to come back with a lot of knowledge of how people in high

positions achieved their positions,” Asatouri said. “That’s very

important, because in the future I want to be somebody important



To comprehend what it means to be a leader and the decisions

facing one, the students will engage in a role-playing activity

called “If I were President.” Students will act as president and

cabinet members responding to an international crisis.

“We had the problem of United States ambassadors being

assassinated,” said Soo Ho Park, 16, who attended the conference last


He was president and had to decide whether to act with military

force against the country that assassinated the ambassadors or keep

the U.S. out of war.

“There was a great deal of pressure because of the two losses that

we had”, Soo Ho said. “After I took everyone’s input, I talked with

my secretary [of state]. That’s where I was able to get the full

experience of the pressure.”

Soo Ho decided not to go to war but after the exercise, he really

understood what decision making processes a leader sometimes goes

through, he said.

“The leadership experience is great and you loose the fear of

speaking in front of people,” Soo Ho said.

That’s exactly what Asatouri is hoping to get and she also looks

forward to meeting new people and exploring a new city, she said.