By M. Scott Morris
FULTON – Sarah Dobbs had been thinking about a career in business, but a pair of big trips this summer have her leaning in another direction.
“I want to go into politics. I want to be a senator someday,” Dobbs, 17, said. “Maybe, I’ll be a lawyer because a lot of senators are lawyers.”
She got a double dose of politics as a delegate to Girls State in Hattiesburg in June, followed by a trip to Washington, D.C., for Girls Nation, July 20-27.
Dobbs represented American Legion Itawamba Post 51 for Girls State, where she rubbed elbows with Gov. Phil Bryant and other Mississippi leaders.
After an interview in Hattiesburg, the senior at Itawamba Agricultural High School was chosen as an alternate for Girls Nation, but another girl had to drop out.
At the federal level, the Fulton resident had meetings with Sens. Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran and Rep. Steven Palazzo.
She was one of 98 delegates to Girls Nation, and their stay included a visit to the White House.
“I’m still freaking out that I got to breathe the same air as the president,” she said.
President Barack Obama offered the delegates greetings from the first lady, and said he was proud of their accomplishments and challenged them to continue to grow as leaders.
“We got to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him, too,” Dobbs said.
During a tour of Arlington National Cemetery, Dobbs and three others were chosen to place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The delegates had decorated the wreath with red paper poppies, the same poppies the American Legion
Auxiliary gives out in honor of fallen soldiers.
“It was an amazing opportunity to be part of that,” Dobbs said. “I cried on the bus afterward.”
She also got to know her fellow delegates, who came from every state except Hawaii, which doesn’t have an American Legion post.
“Wouldn’t it be great if I could get an American Legion post started there?” she said.
The delegates elected officers and debated bills, getting a taste of what it takes to run a government that’s for the people and by the people.
“The first day, we were all nervous,” she said, “but in the span of a week, we became friends, lifelong friends.”