Sixteen-year-old Kateri Hawley’s first night on the job will give her pretty good seats for the annual State of the Union address.

The Morton High School junior was selected as one of only 30 teens nationwide and the only one from Illinois to be a page in the U.S. Senate this year.

Sixteen-year-old Kateri Hawley’s first night on the job will give her pretty good seats for the annual State of the Union address.

The Morton High School junior was selected as one of only 30 teens nationwide and the only one from Illinois to be a page in the U.S. Senate this year.

“I’m really excited and kind of nervous,” she said last week while sitting in the office of her father, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan Hawley. “This is going to be a great opportunity to get up close experience with politicians and see what they are like.”

Kateri Hawley applied for the position through U.S. Sen. Richard “Dick” Durbin’s office last summer. She sent her resume, an essay and references to the Illinois Democrat’s office after taking an honors civics class at school. Intrigued by politics and wanting to learn more, she figured it didn’t hurt to apply.

But she admits she’s not a C-SPAN junkie, or at least, not yet.

Months went by and she didn’t hear a thing. Then on Jan. 3, a Saturday, she got the call that she received the job. A packet of forms arrived three days later. Since then, it’s been a whirlwind to get all her ducks in a row, her father joked. 

“We spent four hours filling out forms. Then we had to get in touch with her school, but they were closed for two days due to the cold. It’s been crazy,” he said. 

The two drove out to Washington, D.C., this past weekend, and Kateri started her assignment Monday. That night, President Barack Obama is to address a joint session of Congress for the annual State of the Union. As a page, Kateri will attend school with her 29 colleagues, having as much as four hours of homework a night, she said with a groan. 

As a Senate page, she’ll be responsible for delivering correspondence and legislative materials to lawmakers as well as preparing the Senate chambers for an upcoming session. 

Durbin, who selected her, noted that he started his career on Capitol Hill as an intern for then-Sen. Paul Douglas, also an Illinois Democrat. 

“I know what a valuable experience it can be to work in Washington, and the Senate Page Program offers a unique opportunity for high school students to get a glimpse into the workings of the United States Senate,” he said. “Kateri Hawley submitted a strong application to be a Senate page, and I am sure she will be a fine addition to the academically challenging program for the spring semester.”