Mr. Taylor goes to Washington

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'It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.'

By James Roberts

There's a crisis in Central Asia and the Caspian Sea region. The president needs a plan of action, and he needs it fast. He turns to his national security team for a resolution.

The pressure is on.

Jaqil Taylor, a sophomore at Campbellsville High School, was among the National Youth Leadership Forum students from across the country who spent a week in Washington D.C. last month exploring American diplomacy, intelligence and defense.

The trip offered Taylor and his fellow participants a chance to flex their security muscles.

"We had a crisis scenario and they broke us into different groups. They threw so much at you."

Founded in 1992, the National Youth Leadership Forum is an independent, educational organization established to help prepare young people for their professional careers. Forums are offered in a variety of career fields, including law, medicine and national security.

High achieving high school and university students are nominated to attend NYLF programs by educators, organization advisers, alumni, participating institutions or through classroom surveys.

Taylor, 15, is the son of Joseph "Bug" and Shelia Taylor. He was nominated for the program by Campbellsville Independent's Gifted and Talented Coordinator Vangie Altman. Taylor was one of only two Kentucky students in his group who participated.

The highlight for Taylor was getting to visit the capitol building, though he says the whole trip was an eye opener.

"It was different. I had never been out of the country area. This was my first trip to a big city."

Taylor said the trip offered a unique insight into national security and foreign affairs.

"We got to see how it works, how they make their decisions and the process they go through."

Though Taylor admits he was only somewhat interested in national security before the trip, he said he now has a better understanding and respect for the issue.

Taylor said he'd jump at the chance to go again.

"It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If you ever get the chance to go, take it."

- Staff Writer James Roberts can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 226 or by e-mail at writer@cknj.com. Comment on this story at www.cknj.com.