For Abebe Kebede, 17, the path to the U.S. presidency starts in high school. The Kingstowne resident is a junior at Hayfield Secondary School, but with an eye turned toward a governing career, he recently began a semester in the Congressional Page Program in Washington, D.C. In the program, he takes classes at the Library of Congress and works with U.S. Rep. William Lacey Clay Jr. (D-Mo.) in the House during the day. Abebe, whose activities include being student council vice president and working at the school paper at Hayfield , took some time to answer a few questions about himself and about working on the Hill.
How long have you lived in the community and what brought you here? I’ve lived in the Kingstowne area for about 14 or 15 years, ever since I was a little kid. I like the Kingstowne area, it’s really nice.
Family: My family is like any other family. We’re Ethiopian, so there’s a culture behind it. My dad is very old-fashioned, but my mom likes to learn new things, and it’s fun. I have a really big family. In my immediate family, I have two sisters and a brother. But with my mom’s sisters and brothers, it’s infinity. And they all live in the area, so we visit them a lot.
Favorite school subject: History is my favorite subject, especially U.S. history. My favorite period is a triple tie between the Second World War, the events leading up to the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement, and Kennedy’s presidency.
How did you become interested in the Congressional Page program? My mom works in the Longworth House office building, and through a friend I was able to become an intern in one of the congressmen’s office, Congressman William Lacey Clay. I worked with him for about three months, and I was the high school intern, the youngest one. There were two other college interns. I organized stuff, I wrote summaries and I did research. At the end of the period of being the intern, the congressman came up to me and was like, “If the Democrats win the House, I might have a spot to sponsor a page.” Members of Congress are only given once every two years a chance to sponsor a page. The House was taken over by the Democrats, and I received a call saying I could be a page.
College or future plans: I know what I want to be when I grow up, and that’s President of the United States. But you have to start small, so I’ll probably be a lawyer. I’ve always wanted to go to Georgetown or George Washington, but if I had to stay in the state of Virginia then I’d go to UVA because UVA has an awesome law program, and they do have a government course.
Community concerns: Personally, I think Kingstowne is one of the best communities in the county, because it’s all in one area, one, and it has everything. If you go out to Annandale, everything’s not in one place. Hayfield’s community is so close together, ever since we split with South County, we’re all one big community. If you need something from the community then Kingstowne’s there. Look how it’s changed — I remember Kingstowne used to be woods ... if I was picky, I would maybe add a breakfast place in the area. IHOP is down the street in Manchester Lakes, but inside the shopping center, then I’d want a breakfast place.
Favorite place to hang out in the area: Either going to the movies or Chipotle. Chipotle is the number-one hangout spot for any Kingstowne person. There's a saying, "If you go to Hayfield, you love Chipotle."
What music is playing on your radio right now? 95.5. Once I get in the car, then the 93.9 Russ Parr Morning Show's horoscopes. They're so funny.
What was the last book you read or the last movie you watched? The last movie I watched was "Freedom Writers." It was a good movie. I started to read "Grapes of Wrath." I don't like that book, and I'm pretty happy I don't have to do the end-of-the-book project because I won't be here for it.
If you could go on a road trip anywhere in the U.S., where would you go? Disney World. I've never been to Disney World before in my life, and I've always wanted to go.
Personal goals: I want to accomplish what I have in front of me. I do a lot of stuff in school and sometimes I'm not able to finish it, sometimes I am, but being able to say, "Hey, I've done it and I've done well," will be great to say. After this semester, I just want to go to college. I'll be the first one in my family to go away for college — my sister did go to college — but for my dad, I'd be his first son to go to college.
— Lea Mae Rice