“I learned so much, saw so much on the trip,” McPhail said. “It is difficult to say what was my best experience.”
The opportunity to take the trip and the chance to meet people from similar areas of the country was, the rising senior stressed, likley the best part of a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
McPhail was able to go on the trip as a part of The Foundation for Rural Service’s (FRS) annual Youth Tou, one of the most visible examples of the foundation’s involvement with, and commitment to, rural youth.
This year marks the tour that has been sponsored by FRS. Each year, in collaboration with NTCA member companies, FRS brings rural students from across the United States to Washington, D.C. for a four-day tour of the some of the most historical sites in the nation. While there, students also learn about the telecommunications industry, as well as the regulatory and legislative processes.
The young Raider was selected to represent Sampson County and was eligible because his family are members of Star Telephone, an NTCA member responsible for final selection of the student who is chosen to attend.
Jeff Shipp, Community Relations manager for Star , served as a chaperone for the trip and noted McPhail’s commitment to the learning experience.
“Alex is a very impressive young man who represented Star Telephone and our community professionally throughout the Washington, D.C. experience,” Shipp said. “Alex had the opportunity to learn about the telecommunications industry and the valuable services telephone cooperatives offer their members and the communities they serve. As a chaperone to the 100 plus students it was inspiring to see Alex and students from across the country tour our Nation’s Capital and see many historic sites. For many this was their first visit to Washington, D.C.”
The selection process stipulates that the student had to be a rising senior and a customer of Star Telephone. The actual selection of Alex was made from high school personnel and administration based on maturity, school accomplishments and performance. McPhail was also a participant in the Chamber of Commerce Jr. Leadership program which also offered valuable experience as the selected candidate. “I really enjoyed the five days Alex and I spent together and look forward to following his future educational accomplishments in the years to come,” shared Shipp.
The Sampson representative plays both basketball and baseball at Midway and is the son of Danny and Kim McPhail. He has an older brother named Jared who also attended Midway.
The tour that took place June 5-9 came just as school was winding down and McPhail had to choose whether to participate in the state baseball playoffs or go on the tour. “It was a tough decision but I chose to go. I feel that it was an experience that will continue through my life and may help me in the future. I wished I could have played in the playoffs, but I think I made the right decision.”
While in Washington, the rising senior met congressmen Bob Etheridge and Mike McIntyre. “Bob Etheridge got us through security at the White House and we got to see a lot there. It was also nice to meet our representatives and see where the decisions of the leaders of our country are made on a daily basis.”
Following graduation at the end of next school year, McPhail is hoping to attend East Carolina University majoring in Occupational Therapy. “I would like to give back to the community and I enjoy helping people, and I feel this profession would allow me to do that.”
McPhail expressed his gratitude and appreciation to Star Telephone for making it possible for him to attend the Youth Tour, and to Jeff Shipp for being a great chaperone. “I cannot ever say how much I appreciate this opportunity and will consider Jeff Shipp to be a life-long friend. I just want to say thank you to Star and Jeff for allowing me to go.”