Goldsboro High teen works as congressional page
By Anessa Myers
Published in News on September 2, 2007 2:00 AM
Teddy Howell knows all about overcoming obstacles.
An honor student and active in many extra-curricular activities, he credits his family with showing him the way through a sometimes challenging growing up in Goldsboro.
But even though the Olivia Lane resident filled out applications -- one of them more than 80 pages long -- for a position as a Democratic congressional page for U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, he did not think he would be one of the lucky ones to head to Washington.
That is, until he got the letter this April.
Howell was among 69 other applicants in a congressional district that covers all or parts of 23 counties in North Carolina.
Already nervous for a scholarship pageant that night, he got the letter that afternoon.
"I was jumping up and down, running around, screaming," Howell said. "I didn't figure I was going to get picked because of all the other people who applied. There were probably people who were more deserving than I was."
A couple months later, he was on his way to Washington. He served as a page from July 9 through Aug. 4.
Howell said he was on the floor of the House of Representatives every day - "doing things an intern would do."
And that could have been just about anything, he added,
A statement page, a voter page, a runner, a floor page -- his list of duties included everything from listening to speakers' statements to recording votes and delivering bills.
And he opened doors.
"I met Nancy Pelosi," he said of the Speaker of the House. "I opened the door for her twice. That was another job we had. We had to open the doors for the congressmen when they came into session."
Just being there had an impact, he said.
"That was an incredible thing, actually seeing the House floor and seeing laws made. I was speechless the first time I saw it."
Howell said he fell in love with politics.
"I loved watching the debates and seeing people come forward with bills to make our country a better place to live and work," he said. "I was always kind of engaged in politics but never really understood the background or the basics of it. But now that I got it firsthand, I want to do that. I learned that politics can be a crazy job to do, but it is very interesting."
In addition to the process, Howell said he met the people behind the votes, including "most of the Democrats," which included congressmen from Florida, Connecticut, North Carolina and California.
He also enjoyed spending time with people his age from around the country.
"That was great," Howell said of his peers. "We were all amazed together. I met a lot of new friends that I plan on keeping in touch with."
While in the nation's capital, Howell and other pages went sightseeing, trying to tour as much as possible in a small amount of time.
"Four weeks for me was really short to get the whole D.C. experience," he said. "On the weekends, we tried to go everywhere. We went to the White House, Lincoln Memorial, World War II Memorial, George Washington University, the Holocaust Museum. ... I tried to get a cultural feel for the city. It had so many things to offer."
He didn't want to leave.
"I'm ready to move there," he said. "I feel like I know the area very well now."
That knowledge will help him in the very near future.
Howell will be applying for early action at Howard University in November. Once there, he plans on double majoring in history and international business.
But his collegiate career won't stop there, he added.
He wants to go to law school and get his master's degree in business administration.
He said his page experience helped him find his career path.
"My dream is to become a lawyer," he said. "I want to do corporate law or become an entertainment attorney to keep music in my grasp."
That isn't all.
"I could see myself being a congressman or maybe even running for president if it comes time," he said.
Right now, Howell is a senior at Goldsboro High School, and he has a long list of activities to keep him busy.
He is the incoming president of the GHS Key Club, a community service club sponsored by the Goldsboro Kiwanis Club. He is also the trombone section leader in the GHS band and made all county for music last year.
He also is ranked No. 2 in the junior class and maintains a 4.4 weighted GPA. He takes advanced placement classes to increase his success in college and is the incoming vice president of the National Honor Society. Last year, he was the vice president of the History Club, vice president of the junior class and a member of the Student Government Association.
This year, he was designated as assistant chief marshal of the senior class.
He is also active in the community, having participated in Habitat for Humanity and volunteering with the Salvation Army and several area soup kitchens.
At age 17, Howell had experiences that many can only dream, and he is grateful for them all -- and for the people who helped him get there.
"I want to thank everybody who was involved in me going to D.C.," he said. "All of my teachers -- they stayed on top of me for my work."
And then there is his mother, Pearlene Howell, and his grandfather, Herbert Howell, whom he credits for giving him the direction he needed to achieve.
"If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't know where I would be right now," he said. "My mother has supported me 100 percent, and anything I needed she would try to give to me if she could. She has been my support system throughout my life, and my grandpa has been right there along with me."
And he wants to make sure he remembers those he represents, too.
"I want to thank the people outside of the community," he said. "I don't want to let anyone down. I just thank God for this opportunity."
Howell said that he will cherish the experience forever. Coming from a home with a single mother, he is humbled.
"A lot of kids are not able to do this," he said. "I have done amazing things. I have never gotten a chance to do something like this, and when the opportunity came up, I jumped on it. I was afraid and nervous and wanted to do well. I felt like a millionaire for those four weeks."
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