Samrat Sahoo doesn’t want to be a politician.
Despite that, the Reedy High School rising senior wanted to participate in a program that postures itself after government operations.
Texas Boys State, an American Legion participatory program, allows high school students to become a part of their local, county and state government operations, according to the program website. Activities for Boys State programs, run by students elected to offices, include legislative sessions and court proceedings, according to the American Legion Website.
As Sahoo puts it, the program takes the current government’s structure and requires students to carry out regular government processes.
“The format on how we do the existing processes is decided by the boys,” he said. “So essentially, the structure and process are the same as reality, but the way we handle things there is independent of reality.”
While the program usually takes place in Austin, this year’s event took place on a virtual platform in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The almost weeklong program took place during early June.
When Sahoo wasn’t able to get nominated by his school, he reached out to a Legion post, which sponsored a different high school, he said.
“I contacted them directly and then they just interviewed me, and they said I was one of the strongest candidates,” he said.
As a result, Sahoo got to serve on the Rules Platform Committee at this year’s Texas Boys State. He was also appointed to the position of Texas Military Preparedness Commissioner on the program’s last day. For Sahoo, the most interesting part of the experience was that attendees had to give speeches for positions they wanted to get.
“Some speeches will translate really well in real life, but not as well on technology,” Sahoo said, “so we had to craft speeches that would translate well in technology so we would have a better chance of getting our positions.”
During the program, discussions covered modern issues including police brutality and the COVID-19 pandemic, Sahoo said, and he found himself faced with multiple viewpoints.
Of course, he wasn’t really there for politics.
“I'm actually more of a STEM person,” he said.
An aspiring entrepreneur in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), Sahoo said he would mainly take away the leadership experience he got from the program and apply it to entrepreneurship.
“I would think that aspiring politicians would also be some of the best leaders, and so I felt that the Boys State would be a really good medium to meet some of those really good leaders and grab attributes from their leadership style that I can apply to myself,” he said.
He said the experience allowed him to open up and be accepting of other ideas.
“That's really essential,” he said, “because when you're a leader, you have to work on a team and you have to consider all of the viewpoints of other team members and what they feel.”
After participating in the program, Sahoo said he hopes to take what he saw at Texas Boys State, particularly from skilled public speakers, and figure out how to apply it.
“I know if you mix the leadership qualities of politicians and put them into entrepreneurship, I guess you have a lot higher chance of success, just because you have that charisma,” he said.