by Becky GINOS
BOUNTIFUL—Some people may be worried about the youth today – apparently they haven’t met James Madsen.
Madsen, a senior at Bountiful High recently represented Utah as a delegate to the United States Senate Youth Program in Washington, D.C. He’s also a student body officer, Academic All-state football player and English Sterling Scholar.
“We stayed at the Mayflower Hotel,” he said of the trip. “It’s where every president has had their inaugural ball except Trump. It was a cool place to be.”
Selected as one of only two students from Utah to participate, Madsen had to complete a rigorous application process to be the delegate. “First I was nominated by my school then I had to go to the (Utah State) Capitol in November to an all day competition,” he said. “We had to prepare a 25 page portfolio and write an essay and give a speech on the spot. Then we participated in a round table discussion with the other competitors. There were about 100 students and they narrowed it down to two who went on.”
He was in Washington for a week. “Every day was a life changing experience,” said Madsen. “Some speakers were amazing. We heard from people like Robert Henry and John Lewis, who you literally read about in textbooks. Meeting the president was surreal.”
The delegates toured the capital and surrounding areas as well. “I literally had dinner by the Declaration of Independence,” he said. “We walked in the same places as George Washington. Every single hour we were doing something awesome.”
Getting to know the other delegates was a highlight of the trip he said. “It was so impactful meeting all the other kids who were changing their communities and rising out of different circumstances,” Madsen said. “My roommate lived in Parkland and attended a neighboring school so some of his friends were involved (in the shooting). He shared some experiences. That was very eye opening.”
Madsen said the main purpose of the conference is to send student leaders back inspired to make a change in their community. “It’s also for later on in life, they’re producing senators, etc. or people who end up being involved in government,” he said. “We’re training to see what it’s like and see the legislative process up close.”
As for the future, Madsen said he knows for sure he’ll be involved in the community. “I’m only 17 but the idea of becoming a senator would help me to be able to help a lot of people,” he said. “I could end up in Washington or right here in Bountiful. No matter what I’ll be civically involved.”
In the meantime, he’s moving through life at a break-neck speed, helping with charities and preparing for an LDS mission to Bolivia in July. “After that I’ll go to college and maybe into biomedical engineering,” Madsen said. “But I have a lot of different interests.”
In addition to playing the cello for 11 years, he spent a month last summer in Ghana helping at the Good Shepard Orphanage. “I went with the Rotary International to Mexico twice with Families helping Families doing refurbishing work,” he said. “I’m also trying to start a program at my school that mobilizes different school leaders in organizations to go look in the hallways for those who are alone and form friendships so they feel loved and have friends.”
For the last three years, he and some friends visit Welcome Home Assisted Living Center bimonthly and play games with the residents.
“I want to change the world,” he said. “I want to make a difference in everything I’m doing. Growing up that has been my guiding focus to help other people and affect them for good.”