Alabama student selected to prestigious Student Congress

Kaitlyn Krejci, a junior majoring in political science, will represent the state of Alabama at the National Student Congress in Lexington, Kentucky.

Adam Dodson

Henry Clay, known as “The Great Compromiser,” was famous for being an effective congressman because of his rhetorical abilities. Now, The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship chooses 50 students annually to participate in a National Student Congress focused on promoting the characteristics the famous Kentucky statesman once held dear while also discussing the problems of today.

This year, The University of Alabama’s own Kaitlyn Krejci will be representing the state of Missouri at the National Student Congress. The Student Congress will give student representatives a chance to garner practical experience before transitioning into the real world, as some representatives will go on to intern on Capitol Hill, work for law firms or participate in political campaigns. Krejci, a St. Louis native and junior majoring in political science, will help formulate public policy and work with other members of the mock legislative body.

“I believe that the Student Congress will be an avenue to foster relationships and a better understanding of different viewpoints,” said Krejci. “I hope to use the skills acquired at the Student Congress not only in my daily life, but in my long term goals in the public policy process.”

The Student Congress meets annually for one week in Lexington, Kentucky where they first visit the Henry Clay Center and meet their peers. Then, throughout the week, the students are immersed in different viewpoints from a variety of prestigious speakers.

“Nationally recognized guest speakers engage in seminars with the students,” said Tyler Glick, who is works for Glick Strategies, which helps with the Henry Clay Center. “Past speakers have included justices of the Supreme Court, U.S. Speakers of the House, governors, senators, and other nationally recognized officials and academic thought leaders.”

Members of the Henry Clay Center and of the Student Congress may dedicate themselves to perfecting the craft of compromise, but they also believe this effort is pointless if they are unable to apply it to today’s political climate. The organizers of the Student Congress want the students to have a true understanding of how to tackle the issues of the present. The issues for the Student Congress to focus on are selected by a multiple team effort of the Henry Clay Center, The Bipartisan Policy Center, and two universities in Kentucky. The Bipartisan Policy Center works with the Henry Clay Center in the selection of issues discussed. Then, The University of Kentucky Martin School of Public Policy and Dr. Michael Cairo of Transylvania University work together to set the curriculum for the participants. 

After a week of meeting with peers and listening to political speakers, the congress is capped off with a debate at the Old State Capitol in Frankfurt, Kentucky. This is the same building where Henry Clay himself gave many speeches and laid the foundation of his legacy. The inclusion of different viewpoints and promotion of political compromise is what many in the organization believe is the first step to improving the current political culture.

“Students explore how effective dialogue and compromise have been instrumental in resolving high-stakes policy and societal issues, while honing skills of personal engagement,” said Mike Vetter, Executive Director of the Henry Clay Center. “In an increasingly polarized public and civic environment, this is important as ever. Representatives are expected to create policy by finding common ground between diverse ideological positions.”

The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship now has an alumni base of over 500 members. These members include elected members of state and local offices, staffers for U.S. senators and congressmen, and legal professionals in the private sector.  The National Student Congress will meet this year from June 11th-17th.