Fourteen-year-old Lexy Ashford likes to read, swim competitively, and wants to be a lawyer in the future.
But what sets Lexy apart from other freshmen at Placer High School is realizing the dream of a lifetime: attending Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration in Washington D.C.
A year and a half ago, the Auburn teen received a blue envelope in the mail, complete with the presidential seal. It was from the organization Young Leaders of America, inviting her to attend a summit, including the inauguration and inaugural ball. Only 20 high school students from across the country were chosen, and organizers were drawn to her hard work and political passion after she attended their conference three years ago.
“I’m hoping to learn,” Ashford says. “I know it’s kind of dorky but I really want to learn first-hand how politics and everything works because when you’re 14, it’s so hard to understand everything going on in our world, especially when you only rely on social media for your news source.”
Ashford also had her foot in the political world before she could even walk. Her mother Nina Salarno Besselman is a lawyer and helped form a group called Crime Victims United. Ashford met Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at one year old and met Governor Jerry Brown at age 12.
Now, Ashford swims competitively, with eight practices a week, sometimes as early as 4:30 a.m. She was the valedictorian at her middle school, St. Joseph’s Catholic School, participated in Academic Decathlon for two years, and loves to read.
Ashford is excited to attend the presidential inauguration and believes in keeping an open mind when it comes to political leaders.
“A lot of people ask me, well, do you support Trump because it’s such a controversial election. But my answer is always the same. It’s…I’m fourteen, I can’t even vote, so I don’t really think it’s fair for me to decide right away what I believe in,” Ashford says. “I see everything from my friends and my social media and I feel like kids these days just do what their parents say. Like their parents say they like this person, so they like this person…Turn on the TV and just listen. Listen to what they have to say. Think about what you would want if you had kids and a family.”
Lexy says Marco Rubio was her first choice, but she’s happy Donald Trump will be the next U.S. president.
“I will admit there’s stuff Trump said that isn’t always stuff I believe in, but when it comes down to it, you have to look at every single little thing. You can’t just judge people on one thing or two things they say,” Ashford adds.
Her mother says her family is very proud of Ashford and what she wants to do in the future. They also laugh about her being very opinionated.
“Some kids look at this like oh cool this is just a trip to D.C.” Besselman says, “But she was like, Mom this is awesome. I get to be a part of history. Look at all this stuff. The speakers. She really got into it.”
And what does Lexy want to do in the future?
“Make a change someday…To stand up for what I believe in, and I think being a lawyer would be good for me because I like to talk too,” she added with a laugh.
As for the inauguration, which happens Jan. 20, she says the whole situation hasn’t really hit her yet.
“What other 14 year olds get to say they’ve gone to the presidential inauguration? It should be really overwhelming. An experience I’ll get to hold with me for the rest of my life.”
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