Whitman Eighth-Grader Participates in Virginia Senate Page Program for the 2024 General Session

By Harmony Tahy
March 26, 2024

Eighth-grader RJ Nena, Jr. from Whitman Middle School has just completed a unique and historic experience: serving as a Virginia Senate Page. The program, established in 1850, plays a vital role in the daily operations of the state Senate.  RJ was selected by Senator Scott Surovell to represent our community as part of the Senate Page Class of 2024.

Lessons in Independence

For an entire legislative session, RJ lived in Richmond with a roommate. Senate Pages take on various responsibilities within the chamber, all while keeping up with their schoolwork and returning home to their families every weekend.

Reflecting on his time as a Page, RJ highlighted the friendships he formed as the most rewarding aspect. "Meeting new people from all over Virginia and building connections with the legislators – it was a whole new experience," he shared. "We were all like-minded, and I know these will be lifelong friends."

The program wasn't without its challenges. Adjusting to a more independent lifestyle, managing his own time and finances, proved to be a hurdle for RJ. "Leaving my family and friends back home was tough too," he admitted.

Lasting Rewards

Despite these challenges, RJ misses the excitement and constant learning opportunities the program offered. He even had the chance to meet Senator Caroll Foy, who inspired him with her story of overcoming adversity at the Virginia Military Institute.

For any student considering applying, RJ's message is clear: "This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You learn so much about government, and it might even help you figure out what you want to do in the future. It's definitely not boring!"

RJ's experience as a Senate Page is a testament to the program's ability to foster personal growth, civic engagement, and lasting friendships. It's an opportunity that can ignite a passion for government and leadership in young minds.  Thank you, Senator Surovell, for providing our Wildcat with this amazing opportunity.