Christensen, a senior at Woods Cross High School, was one of two students from across the state chosen to spend a week in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Senate Youth Program. The U.S. Senate Youth Program, established in 1961 by U.S. Senate Resolution, offers two students from each state the opportunity to experience the national government in action. Students get to visit with senators, key political figures and tour historical sites throughout the area. Beyond the week-long experience, students are also given a $5000 scholarship.
"I've always been interested in government and social sciences," said Christensen. "After hearing about the program in debate class, I thought that it would be something that I'd like to do."
Christensen had to go through a highly competitive process before being selected out of hundreds of students to attend.
"The process varies from state to state," explained Christensen. "In Utah, each school nominates two students to compete for the opportunity."
Each nominated student was required to create a portfolio, participate in a round table discussion and give a speech regarding an aspect of government. From there, some students were selected to continue in the process, while others were eliminated.
The final step required the remaining students to present a speech to a committee. Christensen prepared and presented a speech on the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld. His speech impressed the judges and soon, Christensen found himself headed to D.C.
"It was a great experience." said Christensen. "We had a very busy schedule visiting monuments, memorials and museums. We were able to meet with Supreme Court Justice Roberts and heard from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. It was really neat."
Beyond meeting with Roberts and Gates, the students met with a variety of senators from across the nation. They were also able to tour the White House and Pentagon.
"It wasn't like learning in school," Christensen said. "It really brought into perspective the way our country operates."
Christensen returned from D.C. over the weekend and, like other seniors in high school, is getting ready to start college.
"I've applied to six different schools," Christensen said. "I should find out where I've been accepted soon."
In his free time, Christensen enjoys skiing, mountain biking, computer games and hanging out with friends.
In school, he enjoys debate and band, where he plays the clarinet and saxophone.
While in college, Christensen hopes to major in international relations and possibly pursue a graduate degree in law or another area.
"I don't think that I want to go into government," said Christensen. "What I really want to do is serve as a diplomat overseas.
"I believe that there are two types of knowledge you can learn: there's the abstract knowledge you gain in the classroom, and then there's the ability to apply that knowledge in the real world," said Christensen. "That's what this program teaches students."
"I would absolutely encourage students to take advantage of any opportunities like this one," he continued. "It's very important to know about our government and how it operates. The more we know, the more we will appreciate it and understand our rights and freedoms."