People & Places

Governor of Girls State stays busy

Sruthi Palaniappan, Linn-Mar senior, wants to attend Stanford

Linn-Mar high school student Sruthi Palaniappan stands outside Linn-Mar high school in Marion on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Palaniappan was recently chosen to be National Child Youth Ambassador for Iowa. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
Linn-Mar high school student Sruthi Palaniappan stands outside Linn-Mar high school in Marion on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Palaniappan was recently chosen to be National Child Youth Ambassador for Iowa. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

Linn-Mar High School senior Sruthi Palaniappan has had a busy year.

This summer, Palaniappan, 18, of Cedar Rapids, spent a week at Iowa Girls State, during which participants are divided into two political parties, federalist and nationalist, in a mock state called Hawkeye. She was elected governor and spent the summer speaking about her experiences. She also earned a scholarship through the program, which is operated by the American Legion Auxiliary of Iowa.

But that wasn’t all she was up to during her break from school. She competed in the national Future Business Leaders of America competition in Chicago, and placed third in the public speaking category. And for five weeks, she worked with a gynecologist at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics researching miscarriage rates.

“I’ve always said Sruthi is going to be president someday,” said Jeff Gustason, Linn-Mar’s principal. “She has that quality about her where she’s extremely interested in many different types of issues ... she’s always been somebody who views things in a way in which she involves all students.

Gustason said he met Palaniappan her freshman year and worked with her as part of the school’s Student Advisory Council.

“She’s incredibly smart; she’s incredibly active. There’s been nights where I leave a concert at almost 10:00 at night and then I’ll get back here before 7 a.m. and Sruthi was there when the concert ended and she is here when the morning starts.”

Last week, Palaniappan took part in a leadership training and networking event in Washington, D.C. She had the opportunity to speak to Iowa legislators and learn from other students across the nation. The program is operated through an organization called Youth Service America.

And recently, Palaniappan became the National Child Youth Ambassador for the state of Iowa. She received a $1,000 grant for a service project of her choice.

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For the past year, Palaniappan has been working with Save the Children. She plans to put on a book drive Oct. 16.  She will represent Save the Children at the United Nations General Assembly this week in New York City.

“A lot of planning has already been done,” she said. “We’re going to use the money from my grant. Leading up to it for two weeks, I’ll be going to two elementary schools in my district and teaching kids about the importance of reading, education and why it’s important to start early.”

Books collected at the book drive will be given to Reach Out and Read Iowa.

After graduating from Linn-Mar, Palaniappan wants to attend Stanford University and major in biology and political science.

In her spare time, Palaniappan plays violin and piano. On top of all her other activities this summer, she participated in show choir camp.

“It’s always really fun to be with such a group of motivated people,” she said.

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