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In a world full of challenges, Silt teen looks to help lead

Tamie Meck
Staff Writer

At 18, Kate Newton-Cromwell already has her eye on the future.

The Silt teen is among 350 outstanding students nationwide selected to attend a conference on confronting global challenges.

Newton-Cromwell will attend the Global Young Leaders Conference (GYLC) July 14-25 in Washington, D.C., and in New York City.

“I’m learning how to deal with challenges,” said the soft-spoken Silt teen. Last October, shortly after the events of Sept. 11, she attended the National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C. While a tour of the Senate was canceled due to anthrax, she did get to see the Pentagon about a month after terrorist hijackers flew a passenger plane into the building.

“It was strange,” she said. “It was still smoking.”

A planned tour of the U.S. Senate was canceled because of anthrax.

Those experiences left an indelible mark in her mind. When asked about the serious issues facing the nation and the world, she quickly responded, keeping her focus on Sept. 11.

“Obviously (it’s) terrorism. Nothing like this has ever happened to us and we don’t quite know how to react,” she said.

Students working together to learn how to react to and deal with such crises as terrorism, global warming, human rights and other issues is the crux of these conferences. The overlying theme of the GYLC is “The Leaders of Tomorrow Preparing for Global Challenges and Responsibility of the Future.”

Students are nominated for the program by past participants. Nominees must maintain a high grade point average and have demonstrated leadership and other skills and qualities. Newton-Cromwell was selected by Rifle High School classmate Coeli Velky, who has since moved out of the area.

“I was kind of surprised,” said Newton-Cromwell. “She must have thought pretty highly of me.”

Newton-Cromwell, a native of Silt, is the daughter of Nancy Newton and Richard Cromwell. Her only sibling, Sarah Newton-Cromwell, is 21. Kate graduated from Rifle High School last May with a 3.6 grade point average. Psychology, English and “definitely” history were among her favorite courses.

She’s been accepted at Northern Arizona University this fall. She has yet to declare a major.

“I’m thinking about criminal justice,” she said. She’d never before considered a career in government, but after learning about how the leaders of the world deal with challenges, she may change her mind.

The conferences are sponsored by the Congressional Youth Leadership Council, a nonpartisan, nonprofit, educational organization founded in 1985 and based in Washington, D.C. The council is dedicated to “fostering and inspiring young people to achieve their full leadership potential.”

Throughout her stay, Newton-Cromwell will have the opportunity to interact with key leaders and influential newsmakers, and take part in a carefully designed curriculum aimed at building leadership skills. Students stay on the campuses of Georgetown University and Manhattan College.

While in New York, they will visit “Ground Zero” at the World Trade Center. It’s all been cleaned up, she said, as if reassuring herself. “It won’t look like much.”

From day one, Newton-Cromwell’s itinerary is packed full of workshops, tours, lectures, and formal dining.

“We have to wear suits all the time,” she said, relaxing at her family’s 20-acre farm in bare feet and a tank top. Many hours are spent working in groups of about 15 students and young adult leaders on simulated scenarios that address politics, finance, culture and diplomacy. For example, at the NYLC last October, her group worked on passing a gun law bill, which included a mock session in Congress.

Students also tour the House and Senate, the Smithsonian Institute, the World Bank and World Trade Organization, Wall Street, and numerous museums and national monuments. The entire trip will cost about $2,000.

While students don’t know who the guest speakers will be, past speakers have included former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, White House press correspondent Helen Thomas, Ted Turner, and other leaders of organizations and corporations including American Red Cross, the World Federalist Association, the United Nations, World Watch Institute, Children’s Movement for Peace, the Sierra Club, Amnesty International and Starbuck’s.

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Viet D. Dinh was a featured speaker at the conference last October.

Newton-Cromwell has delved deep into legal and political issues before. She was a member of Rifle High School’s Mock Trial team her junior year. Playing the part of a lawyer, she defended a doctor who had been charged with murder after he assisted in the suicide of a man who was dying of cancer.

The books she reads are equally as intense. John Grisham’s courtroom novels, as well as mysteries and history, are among her favorite reading materials, and she doesn’t like fantasy or sci-fi.

She recently read “The Terrible Hours,” a historical novel about the sinking of a U.S. submarine during World War II, by Peter Maas. Her current read is John Nichols’ classic, “The Milagro Beanfield War,” a political and environmental novel about Joe Mondragon, a small-town farmer in New Mexico and his right to water his beanfield.

Is this all training for one of tomorrow’s global leaders?

It’s hard to say, said Newton-Cromwell, although she admits that her experiences at the national conference “did change me a lot.” By the end of the week, she said, “I was more of a leader.”


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