CHANDLER, Ariz. - An attempt to earn some extra credit evolved into the trip of a lifetime for a senior student at Hamilton High School.
"I found out in class right when I was about to take a test. And so, I was really surprised," said 18-year-old Zhengdong Wang.
Last week, Wang got the news that his nearly 600-word essay had been selected as one of two winners for PBS' 50 for 50 Contest that asked students to response to the question, "How can the government become more effective?"
Wang's essay focused on encouraging the current presidential nominees to focus on constructive dialogue, a message he noted had been echoed over and over by some of our nation's most revered leaders.
"Although it might be counterintuitive that talking more would solve the issues better, I feel that it’s actually a way to get policy makers to not avoid each other," Wang said.
Jacob Harvey is an advanced-placement U.S. government teacher at Hamilton and said about 40 of his students submitted essays for the contest.
"I think this is a great opportunity. This really exciting," Harvey said. "I’m a little bit jealous of Zhengdong that he gets to go."
Wang will attend the final presidential debate on Oct. 19 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and also serve as a student reporter, writing about his experience for the PBS website.
His 18th birthday, on Halloween, will come just in time for the upcoming election, and the teenager said he is pretty sure he knows which candidate he is voting for.
"I’m hoping to gain an insider perspective on the process of the elections and the process of how we select who represents us," he said.