TCCHS’ Patel selected for WYT

Heali Patel

A genuine excitement for and interest in the nation’s government and history led one Thomas County Central High School student to a prestigious recognition.

Grady Electric Membership Corp., or Grady EMC, selected junior Heali Patel as its representative on the 2024 Electric Cooperative Youth Tour, commonly called the Washington Youth Tour. Patel prevailed over several other applicants in Thomasville and Thomas County.

“I feel blessed to be selected to represent my school, community, and even my state on this tour,” Patel said. “I was elated when I heard that I was chosen. I immediately called my mom to tell her the good news. Then, I rushed to find Mrs. [Erin] White and Dr. [Erin] Rehberg.”

This trip is a week-long immersion into the nation’s capital to learn more about its history and government. Erin White, system MERIT director and Advanced Placement coordinator, told Patel about the tour.

“It’s a great opportunity for Heali, and I’m so excited that she’ll get to represent our community,” White said. “Heali interacts with people very well and is very interested in public service.”

TCCHS Assistant Principal Dr. Erin Rehberg said the school’s thrilled Patel received this selection. Joining Patel will be high school students selected by other electric cooperatives from around the state and nationwide. 

“This opportunity promises an extraordinary adventure for students, and I am confident that Heali will thrive amidst the company of fellow high-achieving peers from across the state as she explores the nation's capital,” Rehberg said.

Grady EMC Manager of Marketing and Member Services Adam Starr said the cooperative is also thrilled to have Patel as its representative.

“Heali is an outstanding student with a personality that instantly resonates with others,” Starr said. “Her confidence and natural leadership qualities shone brightly during the interview process, making her the perfect candidate to represent Grady EMC.”

Patel’s excited to learn more about the diversity of the nation’s government. Plus, this tour gives her a second chance at a missed opportunity to visit the nation’s capital.

“After hearing how prestigious and special this opportunity is, I immediately knew I wanted to attend the Washington Youth Tour,” she said. “I heard all about how exciting this week in D.C. can be from a friend who was a former delegate on this tour. I missed out on going to D.C. with the school in the eighth grade due to COVID, so I feel like this is my chance to get that experience I missed out on.”

The 2024 Washington Youth Tour is June 14-21. This year’s itinerary includes trips to various museums and historical sites such as the Smithsonian, Arlington National Cemetery and the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial. Participants also will have the chance to meet some state and national leaders.

“I look forward to visiting all the museums and getting the ultimate D.C. experience,” Patel said. “As a history buff, a city rich in history like D.C. seems like the perfect place for me.”

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