Connor White serves the Commonwealth as Youth Governor

The Model General Assembly elected Connor White (12) as the Youth Governor of Virginia, and he has taken on this role efficiently ever since. MGA is not only a club at Graham, but also a program run through the Virginia YMCA to introduce high school students to the legislative process of Virginia. Each spring, schools from all over the state bring students to fulfill the different jobs – senator, delegate, lobbyist, and governor – of the legislative body of the Commonwealth. During their three days in Richmond, the students will debate legislation that they feel would benefit Virginia to try to get it passed. In addition, an election for the different executive jobs takes place. This past year, Connor White won the title of Youth Governor.

Being elected as Youth Governor is the highest honor that comes with being involved in MGA. Mr. Brown, the sponsor for Graham’s MGA and a history teacher, explained, “As a school, it’s something we can take pride in. We’re a small school in Southwest Virginia and most people say Southwest Virginia doesn’t matter. We haven’t had a true governor of state in over 60 or 70 years, but we’ve had at least five, probably seven counting Radford, youth governors from this end of the state in the last 50 years. I think it’s a way for us on this end of the state to have our voices heard.”  

Along with that honor comes responsibility – meetings, appointments, trips, and doing all the duties of the actual Governor. Connor says, “I’m the chief executive, so I have to review all the bills with my staff and the attorney general, and I either veto or sign them. Over the summer I went to the National Youth Governors Conference in D.C. That was a training exercise for a week where we did community service, made connections, and I got to meet with my congressmen. In December I had the officers retreat in Richmond that was the six officers from MGA in Virginia. We got to know each other, went through training, and went to Busch Gardens – it was a lot of fun.”

In addition to those trips, Connor attended the Leadership-in-Action Workshop in Richmond this past week. This included people that were nominated for different positions in MGA – officers plus committee chairs, lobbyists, reporters, and floor leaders. “It was mostly a training for them and for us it was a chance to meet our real-life counterparts – so I got to meet our Governor and legislators,” Connor said. 

Macy McBride (11) was selected by Connor to be his chief of staff, so she also attended LAW this past week. She explained, “My position involves scheduling meetings for Connor with lobbyists, bill patrons, etc., and tracking his actions along with keeping tabs on the other cabinet members. I include my opinion on the bills and work towards completing Connor’s goals.” During the conference, she took part in cabinet meetings and got to meet Governor Northam’s chief of staff and the governor himself. She said, “It was very exciting meeting the governor. I never thought that I would be in the situation to meet someone of that importance.” She also added, “The workshop allowed us to be better prepared to serve our positions at MGA.”

Connor hopes his role as youth governor will aid him in the future and has already felt it’s impact. He says, “I think a lot of it is confidence – I’ve struggled with self-confidence all my life but I think when I won it was a kind of validation of ‘I can be successful and I can go on and do things and help people through politics.’ I’ve also been able to meet a lot of new people through MGA and develop friendships that will last a lifetime.”