Schenectady County

Student picked for D.C. security conference

Schenectady High School senior Benjamin Andrews was selected to attend the National Youth Leadership

Imagine being head of the FBI with the United States at war with North Korea.

Schenectady High School senior Benjamin Andrews got a chance to experience that scenario during his trip to the National Youth Leadership Forum on National Security, which was held in Washington, D.C. from Sept 27 through Oct. 2.

“It was a high-tension situation and they wanted to see how we would react to that kind of thing. It was kind of fun,” he said.

Andrews was one of 400 students from all over the United States who attended the conference. The 17-year-old was nominated by school officials because of his excellent grades in social studies and English. He said the role-playing situation was one of the highlights of the trip.

As FBI director, he was involved in presenting intelligence to the “president.” There were even students portraying the role of the watchdog press.

“The media was all around, trying to collect information,” Andrews said.

In addition to the simulation, top government officials like the real CIA director and FBI director spoke to the students about their jobs.

“We talked with the highest officials in the government,” Andrews said.

Andrews also got to meet the director of NCIS, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which is a real organization and not just a television show.

Students could also find out what experience is needed to apply for positions in these agencies. All jobs require a college degree and for some, a military background enhances a resume, according to Andrews.

“They teach you how to get into these jobs,” he said.

The students also toured Washington’s sights, including the Capitol building, the Library of Congress and the Lincoln Memorial.

Another highlight of the trip for Andrews was going to the International Spy Museum, where the students got to hear from a real-life spy.

“They had really cool stuff in there,” he said. “They had a simulation of what a nuclear fallout would look like if it ever happened. What would happen if Germany had won World War II.”

Also, people can view reproductions of the desks of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler. Andrews said he enjoys learning about American and world history.

“I’m curious about that type of stuff,” he said.

Andrews said he’d like to become a video game designer. He plans to attend Hudson Valley Community College and then transfer to ITT Technical Institute.

“I figured it would be easier to reach for that.”

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