RAWLINS – Rawlins High School senior Toby Arment will be just one of two student delegates to represent Wyoming at the United States Senate Youth Program March 2-9 in Washington.
The program, which stems from a 1962 Senate Resolution aimed at providing opportunities to students interested in public services, should pose a unique experience for Arment, 17, as gets set to join the other 103 politically inclined students from around the country to meet Pres. Donald Trump, along with a high-ranking group of Supreme Court justices and senators.
Tacked on to Arment’s upcoming excursion, however, is something arguably even more honorable and humbling.
After undergoing an academically grueling selection process, Arment also learned earlier this month that the USSYP named him recipient of a $10,000 scholarship, which he says he’ll use to defray costs attached with one of the 15 universities he’s currently vying to attend.
With the Northeast on his radar, some of the possible institutions include Brown University, and Amherst and Bowdoin colleges, among others.
“It feels awesome,” Arment said. “Ten thousand dollars for an education is awesome. And the trip is going to be incredible too.”
In June, Arment – who’s been an integral component of the RHS debate team since freshman year – was first made aware of the scholarship opportunity during a trip to a Wonderful Wyoming Boys State session, a political program for Cowboy State students sponsored by the American Legion.
From there, the aspiring public servant says he had to complete a three-part application process. Following a formal, logistical first part came a five short-essay portion, which required Arment to highlight his more notable traits, including extra-curricular activities, leadership experience and future plans.
But it was the remaining requirement of this three-pronged process that truly placed Arment under the academic microscope.
Arment says he was given 12 topics to study prior to having a proctor randomly select a topic in which he was allotted 45 minutes to write an essay on. Arment, who’s the type of person to meticulously research an issue after hearing it on National Public Radio – one of his favorite things to listen to in his free time – found little trouble in producing an extensive report on how the Industrial Revolution changed the US.
“I don’t remember what the word count was,” Arment vaguely recalled. “I wrote about three pages on it.”
Once the essays were submitted, USSYP officials came to a consensus, chose the top eight essays and interviewed each of the student authors. Finally, just two students were selected for the $10,000 scholarship and a complementing trip to D.C.
To make matters seemingly more eventful, this pressured portion of the process literally took place the morning of Arment’s first speech and debate tournament earlier this year.
By now, however, Arment is used to this arduous regimen.
The class load of his senior year of high school consists predominantly of college-level courses, including English 1010, macroeconomics, public speaking and criminal justice. And if he’s not hitting these thick text books, Arment is in the band room of RHS, trying to conquer the perfect note as a percussionist.
Also amid this collegiate schedule, some days Arment, who’s a member of the economic vitality committee for the board of DDA/Main Street, an economic appendage of his hometown of Rawlins, will attend DDA meetings.
Back at the Carbon County Higher Education Center, where most of his college courses occur, Arment says he uses his spare time to read publications such as The New Yorker, work on scholarship applications “and totally not watch Hulu.”
Once school ends for the day, Arment then meets with fellow debate teammates to practice and research topics for an additional two hours before heading home. Practicing for congressional and public forum debates entails developing points and counterpoints to any given issue, which is provided by debate judges one month prior to an event.
And if Arment feels the eight hours of debate practice per week doesn’t suffice?
“When I can, I do some research at home as well,” he said.
To place the cherry on top of Arment’s agenda, he joined fellow civic enthusiast and best friend Keagan Keplinger as a Carbon County poll judge for this year’s non-presidential election.
So how did Arment develop such an ambitious, political interest at such a young age?
For one, Arment’s older sister, Alex, is a former four-year debate veteran for RHS. Meanwhile, his mother, Lori Arment, is currently the school’s debate coach.
“She’s done a lot,” said Arment of his mother. “She’s just always been someone who’s been there for me and cared for me and has allowed me to pursue my passions.”
Arment also has an older brother, Jacob, and his father, Virgil, who’s a retired BLM firefighter.
But, according to Arment, he also credits hometown political guru, instructor and current CCHEC Executive Director David Throgmorton, whose political teachings sparked Arment’s interests some time ago.
Arment was asked how these interests subsequently blossomed.
“I care so much about politics because I see it as the biggest vehicle for change in society,” he said.
As for what the high schooler wants to one day become – he mainly highlighted professions involving law – he says, whatever it may be, it will go beyond himself.
“I want to be able to gain a skill set that I can use in any situation to benefit my community in every way possible,” said Arment. “I just want to become a well-rounded person in any situation.”
On top of the $10,000 USSYP scholarship, Arment is currently trying to acquire two additional scholarships, including one from the National Honor Society.