Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti and Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs, were named honorary citizens, and Elliana Panepinto was inaugurated as governor at the 34th American Legion Auxiliary Girls State held at Eastern, Thursday night in the Doudna Fine Arts Center.
Sanguinetti and Frerichs gave speeches, then answered questions from the audience, before being named honorary citizens of Girls State.
“Citizens” in Girls State, are members who are eligible to vote and hold office. Frerichs and Sanguinetti received the titles honorarily because of their participation in the program.
Sanguinetti talked about her background in her speech and all of the challenges and hardships she has faced in life.
Her mother was a Cuban refugee living in Florida, and Sanguinetti grew up poor, bouncing from place to place. She eventually enrolled in college as a classical piano performance major and was introduced to the study of law there.
She explained what it is like being a Hispanic women in politics. Her experiences have made her a strong person, and she told the many high school girls in the crowd to run for political office, because more women leaders are needed in the United States.
“In the future, you can do whatever you want, because you have that fire in your belly,” she said to the crowd.
The questions from the crowd ranged from “What are the biggest advantages and disadvantages being a Latina in government?” to “What’s your zodiac sign?”
After she said she was a Scorpio, she went on to say “I am always busting a move to Cardi B.” The audience responded with massive applause.
Frerichs also talked about his background, including his travels to Taiwan and Germany. He majored in foreign language in college.
Frerichs offered advice to the Girls State participants.
“I’d be the first person at work in the morning, I’d be the last person going home from work at night.” he said.
He congratulated all of the Girls State members who ran for office and ended up losing. He said he has lost many times in his life, and that you learn more about yourself as a person when you loose.
Elliana Panepinto, from Wilmington High School, was inaugurated as governor for Girls State.
“(Girls State) means opportunity, life, fun, friendship and just another step in growing.”
Seventeen people ran against her, so with the help of her friends, she campaigned all the way to victory.
Panepinto said, she and her friends would stay up until 1:30 a.m. making campaign posters, then continue to make campaign posters throughout the day whenever they had free time.
She said she made friendships that will last long after her time at Girls State this year.
“It feels amazing, I worked so hard for this one goal, and it’s just breathtaking. It was amazing to be on there I didn’t know if anyone could see how giddy with excitement I was. I was just shaking. I was like ‘this is the best thing ever.’.”
Jordan Boyer can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]