RALEIGH – Mia Manicone, a rising junior at North Lincoln High School, got her first taste of life as a legislator, spending a week in the state capital as a page serving the N.C. Senate.
“I’ve been searching for a future career path,” Manicone said of her interest in the page program. “Recently, political science and law school have been on my mind, so my mom learned of the page program and we thought it would be a really good opportunity to meet legislators, learn about the legislative process and find out if politics is something I’d be interested in, and I absolutely loved my experience. It was one of the best programs I’ve ever been a part of, and I learned that this is the path I want to pursue, so it was really exciting for me to discover that.”
Manicone took interest in politics as a child while watching the news with her father, Paul, and she’s seen how elected officials can impact the lives of others.
“I’ve always wanted to make an impact on our country, so I tried to think of all the ways I could do that,” she said. “I feel like this is the way I can have the most direct impact because I’ll be out there making the laws that make a difference in people’s lives.”
The page program is open to high school students statewide.
“Anyone can reach out to the senator in their district and ask for an application,” Manicone said of the admission process. “The application basically asks you about yourself, your past experience and why you want to participate in the program. Then it’s just all about them accepting your application.”
Through the program, students assist senators and their staff with office duties, while also attending daily sessions and committee meetings.
“The program is an opportunity for North Carolina high school students to come spend a week at the legislature and see how the process works,” N.C. Senate Page Coordinator Michael Perdue said. “Pages learn how bills proceed through the General Assembly, work the floor during session by passing papers and delivering messages and they also help with committee meetings, where most of the legislative work is done. It’s a working, learning and serving experience for them, and when they leave here they have more knowledge of the legislative process than probably 90 percent of the state’s registered voters.”
In addition to sitting in on the legislative process, Manicone was given a tour of the legislature, where she learned about the history of the N.C. General Assembly and its traditions.
“What I enjoyed the most was probably getting to participate in the sessions,” Manicone said. “That was really cool because everybody was there in the Senate chamber. It was a great experience.”
The pages were also able to meet with the sitting senators to ask questions about their work.
“They shared stories about interesting things that have happened during different sessions,” Manicone said. “We also sat in while different bills were discussed, so we were able to ask questions about their stance on the issues at hand and why they voted the way that they did. They also shared tips on how to move a crowd and earn the trust of the people you serve as a delegate, which was great information for those of us interested in a future in politics.”
Manicone has hit the ground running since returning from Raleigh, becoming a member of the Lincoln County Republican Women, where she’ll continue to help as one of the group’s youngest members. She’s also formed connections that have landed her an opportunity to assist with the campaign of Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest.
“He said I’ll definitely be allowed to help with the campaign, so that’ll be another way for me to learn more and get involved with the political process,” Manicone said.
For more information about the page program and how to apply, call 919-733-5702.