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(Submitted Photo) Worthington High School senior Susana Murillo is shown in front of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Murillo represented Minnesota youths at the Ready by 21 Forum for Youth Investment National Conference Oct. 25 and 26 in the nation's capital.

Student represents Minn. at D.C. youth conference

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WORTHINGTON -- According to the 2000 Census, there are roughly 1.5 million youths in the state of Minnesota.

And in a way, Susana Murillo was charged with representing them all.

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Murillo, a senior at Worthington High School, was selected from the roughly 20 members of the Minnesota Youth Advisory Council (MNYAC) to represent the state at the Ready by 21 Forum for Youth Investment National Conference last week in Washington, D.C.

"I felt really honored and special because I was the only one going from Minnesota," Murillo said. "I'm not sure how they selected me, but ... they thought I was the best choice to go to this conference. I was totally excited for it."

The conference brings together representatives from 33 city and state youth councils across the nation to meet with lawmakers about policy issues that affect young people.

Murillo spent her first day with other representatives, who each shared information about their respective councils and collaborated to plan the following day's presentation to senators and members of Congress.

On day two, Murillo met with Sen. Al Franken and Rep. Tim Walz.

"I was really nervous," she admitted. "because I had to represent myself well and talk to them about youth voice."

Youth voices were heard later that day, when youth council panelists discussed opportunities for incorporating youth voice in federal policymaking and how policymakers could connect with existing youth councils in their district.

"There was a lot of people to hear the discussion, some business people and some Congress," Murillo said.

She used cuts to education to explain why legislative input from youngsters is so important.

"We want them to realize that youth do have a voice, because if you're going to cut things from our school that some people are really passionate about, then our futures get a little dimmer," she explained. "We just want them to ... work with us to improve things."

Murillo, who hopes to study business and advertising in college, will report her experiences to other MNYAC members.

"My favorite part of the trip was getting to know the other councils and interacting with them and getting all this information so I could bring it back to the Minnesota Youth Advisory Council," she said. "(MNYAC) is a really fun opportunity and I'm so glad I got into it."

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