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Winters Mill junior on a mission: Lucinda Diehl defied odds to become finalist in U.S. Senate Youth Program

It’s been Lucinda Diehl’s mission to enter the field of law since she was 7 years old, and she has taken steps in her educational career to get closer to her goal.

The mission has led the junior at Winters Mill High School to emerge from more than 1,000 applicants to become a top 10 Maryland candidate in the United States Senate Youth Program. The program chooses two students from each state for a week of virtual educational experience and gives them scholarship money.

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“Mark Twain, or Samuel Clemens, said the secret or plan to get ahead is getting started,” she said.

Diehl said she is grateful for the opportunity and the experience that came along with the application process.

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The 16-year-old said she received an email in mid-October about the program and noticed the deadline was Nov. 2. She emailed her counselor and sent in the application with a few days to spare.

Diehl had to receive a nomination letter from her principal, list the activities she’s part of — Sources of Strength, student government, National Honors Society and Cultural Differences Unite, to name a few — and submit a one-minute video answering: “How would you monitor the performance of people you have to lead and supervise in order for the project to be successful?”

“Tyrannical leadership never works,” she recalled saying in her video. She added that rather than create an environment that feeds off blame and fault, she’d make sure the focus is on relying and applying talents her workers possess.

Lucinda Diehl, a junior at Winters Mill High School, was chosen as one of the top 10 Maryland candidates for the United States Senate Youth Program.
Lucinda Diehl, a junior at Winters Mill High School, was chosen as one of the top 10 Maryland candidates for the United States Senate Youth Program.

Another aspiration of Diehl’s is to be a Maryland senator. One reason for the goal is so younger girls can see themselves in her.

When she caught a glimpse of Kamala Harris, the first woman and woman of color to be elected vice president, making a speech after most states called the presidential election, she saw hope. Diehl said the mission for equality is not over and she wants to contribute to its achievement.

“I’m a Chinese American and I live in a rural community in a small town and almost every person I know is going to be Caucasian,” she said. “When [your] teachers don’t look like you, it’s harder to see yourself in interaction and personality. Being part of something that a person can see themselves in me, I think that is truly an amazing thing that I can do for others.”

Michael Brown, principal of Winters Mill, posted a video on Instagram and YouTube congratulating Diehl on the accomplishment.

“It’s really an uplifting moment,” he said.

He said he remembers her as a freshman “wide-eyed and bushy-tailed” about her ambition. He wondered if she realized it’s possible not everything will work out the way she wants. But soon enough, he noticed she was “actualizing” her goals through hard work.

Brown said Diehl’s heart makes her special. She would send staff emails to uplift them at the beginning of the pandemic and acknowledge how hard they work.

Diehl, who’s dual-enrolled at Carroll County Community College, prefers to have a busy schedule if it means helping and interacting with others.

“There’s something about it that makes me feel like I’m serving a purpose,” she said.

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She said the more she helps others, the happier she is because she is an extrovert and finds the work fulfilling.

Representatives of the senate youth program interviewed Diehl on Dec. 2. That’s when she learned that she made the final round and was chosen as one of the top 10 candidates from Maryland. She was given a medallion and a certificate. Diehl said she will learn in February if she is chosen as a Maryland representative.

Making the final round nearly sent her in a state of shock, she said.

“Because I am a driven person, I enter so many scholarships,” she said, adding that it often leads to a rejection email.

But this time was different. She was one of a few chosen out of at least 1,000 people, she said.

“The work isn’t done,” Diehl said. “It isn’t about scholarship money. It’s about helping me understand the world around me so I can better understand how to help my community.”

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