Sheridan student attends Girls State, then Girls Nation

Carol Rolf/Contributing Writer Published September 10, 2017 at 12:00 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: William Harvey

Sheridan High School senior Ellie Mayberry attended Girls State of Arkansas in June and was selected as one of two delegates to attend Girls Nation in July. She collected various state pins from girls across the United States to keep as mementos from Girls Nation.

SHERIDAN — Ellie Mayberry knows the meaning of service.

The Sheridan High School senior, who will be 18 later this month, has been involved in leadership roles at school for several years. She has served on the SHS Student Council since she was in the ninth grade and leads the council as its president this year. She served as class president during her sophomore and junior years at the school.

This summer, Mayberry, who lives in the East End community, was selected to serve her state as a member of the American Legion Auxiliary Girls State program in Arkansas, held May 28 through June 2 at Harding University in Searcy. While there, she was selected as one of two young women from Arkansas to attend the 71st American Legion Auxiliary Girls Nation on July 22-29 in Washington, D.C.

The American Legion Auxiliary, Finis Gallion Post 30 of Sheridan, sponsored Mayberry to Girls State, along with 13 other young women from Grant County. The American Legion Auxiliary, Department of Arkansas, sponsored her to Girls Nation, along with one other representative from the state.

Mayberry was one of 100 “senators” (two from each state) to participate in the national leadership conference, which, according to the ALA website,, “provides aspiring young women leaders with practical insight into the workings of government, instills a sense of pride in our county, promotes youth civic engagement, and creates friendships and memories that last a lifetime.”

Stacy Stockton, media specialist at Sheridan High School, described Mayberry as “a wonderful representative of our school and community.”

“I was thrilled to learn that this passionate young lady was recognized at Girls State to earn her a place at Girls Nation,” said Stockton, who oversees Mayberry as she works daily as a library aide. “I am positive her drive, ambition and outgoing personality made her a natural fit to represent Arkansas in our nation’s capital.”

While at Girls Nation, Mayberry was elected as one of six committee chairmen. She also introduced a bill to phase in a balanced budget.

Mayberry said the one of the highlights of attending Girls Nation was meeting President Donald Trump.

“We met with him in the Rose Garden,” she said, noting that the Girls Nation and Boys Nation programs are held concurrently in the nation’s capital.

“The boys were on one side and the girls on the other side as the president spoke. He walked through us and tried to shake as many hands as he could. He brushed my shoulder as he walked by,” Mayberry said.

“I can now say I brushed shoulders with the president,” she said, laughing. “You could tell he was excited about us being there.

“No matter what your political beliefs, it is a great honor to meet the president of the United States.”

Mayberry said attending Girls State was an incredible experience.

“I got to meet so many girls like me that I wouldn’t have otherwise met. I was excited when I was selected to attend Girls State because I had heard so many good things about it from the girls who went before me,” she said.

“They were all trying to explain what it was like and how much fun I would have, but there was really nothing they could have said to truly prepare me for the week I had in store. Getting up and giving those first speeches was incredibly nerve-wracking,

but you learn as the week goes how to just get up there and sell yourself without overthinking it,”

Mayberry said.

“On Wednesday, they announced who would be interviewing for Girls Nation. I didn’t even know that I had been nominated until they called my name. I don’t know exactly what was going through my mind, but I do know that I just sat there for a minute, scared to death about the interview,” she said.

“We had our day at the Capitol before going in for our interviews, so I had a whole day to practice speaking with presenting and debating bills. I wasn’t sure how well the interview went, but apparently it went pretty well since I made it. When they announced on Friday the two girls who would be representing Arkansas at Girls Nation, I was completely in shock,” Mayberry said.

“I in no way was expecting my name to be called,” she said, smiling. “I immediately

called my parents and let them know that I would be taking a trip to Washington, D.C., as ‘Sen. Mayberry.’

“It was such an honor to have been chosen out of all of the approximately 900 girls [at Girls State of Arkansas] who could have easily gone in my place. Girls Nation itself was awesome in the truest sense of the word. There was so much that I got to experience and be a part of that I would have never imagined getting to do, at least not in the near future.”

Mayberry said she might consider a life of public service.

“Later on in life,” she said, laughing. “I want real life experience first. I doubt I would ever run for president, but I would like to get involved on some level.”

Mayberry has learned about public service during the past several years. Her father, Andy Mayberry, currently represents District 27 in the Arkansas House of Representatives. Her mother, Julie Mayberry, served one term of office in that same position a few years ago.

Andy Mayberry is also a small-business owner; he owns Mayberry Advertising in East End. Julie Mayberry currently operates a nonprofit organization, I Can! of Arkansas, which is a dance program for children with special needs.

Ellie Mayberry has three sisters — Katie, who is a sophomore at Sheridan High School and a special-needs child; Zoe, who is in the eighth grade at Sheridan Junior High School; and Courtney,

who is in the sixth grade at East End Intermediate School.

Mayberry said she is supportive of young women who want to get involved in school activities.

“Girls have just as many opportunities as boys do,” Mayberry said, when asked what advice she might give a young girl who hopes to attend Girls Nation someday. “I tell them to go for it. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t make it on the first try. Keep trying.

“I ran for Student Council in the seventh grade and didn’t get it. Now I’m president of Student Council.”

Mayberry is also president of Students for Christ and a member of the National Honor Society. She has been a member of the Future Business Leaders of America since she was in the 10th grade, and she helped introduce

Student Voice at Sheridan High School, a program to help increase student involvement in learning.

She is a member of East Union Missionary Baptist Church, where she is involved with kids’ camps. Mayberry also teaches at I Can! of Arkansas.

Mayberry said is not sure yet where she will attend college or what her major will be.

“I am leaning toward Arkansas State University because they offer a degree in business technology,” she said. “I would like to be a business teacher. I want to combine business classes and education classes.

“I took accounting my sophomore year and loved it,” she said. “I am not a desk-job person. … I love teaching.

“I hope to come back here after I graduate from college. I love Sheridan and East End.”