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Edison Academy student elected regional governor of Junior State

Edison Academy student elected regional governor of Junior State

It’s going to be a busy senior year for Dev Patel, a student at the Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies in Edison.

The junior electrical engineering major from Monroe Township has been elected Mid-Atlantic regional governor of Junior State of America, the nation’s largest student-led organization with more than 10,000 members.

Junior State is a nonpartisan club in which students learn public speaking through debate and participate in simulated legislative hearings, mock Supreme Court cases and civil dialogue on issues in the news.


“I started off as a major underdog,” Dev said of the three-month process leading to his election at the group’s regional convention, held April 21-22 at the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel in Iselin.

But the 1,000 or more delegates gave him the nod, and now he is responsible for leading the planning for the JSA’s three major conventions of the 2018-2019 school year, establishing a budget, supporting the existing 30 chapters and creating new chapters in the region. He will select a cabinet to help him with his duties.

“Usually the attendance is high at the beginning of the year, but then it begins to fall off,” Dev said. “I want to start reversing that trend. I definitely want the highest level of engagement.”

Dev joined Edison Academy’s JSA chapter as a freshman, crediting encouragement by older students.

“I wanted to develop myself as a speaker and a future leader,” he said, noting that previously he was mostly academically oriented. “We don’t take that initiative to go out and develop ourselves.

“I want to bring awareness to something that is neglected, and that’s public speaking,” Dev said.

Although his first few ventures into public speaking “were horrible,” he said, “I gave it a shot and I loved it.”

His history teacher for three years and the adviser to the school’s JSA chapter, Christopher Price, said he saw potential in Dev right away.

“It was a lofty goal and it’s an astonishing accomplishment,” Price said of Dev’s election. “He exudes a quiet confidence. He’s a good person.”

So Dev’s senior year, in addition to applying to colleges and seeking internships, will be spent on JSA business, including being a member of the group’s National Council of Governors.

And some day, Dev says, perhaps a career in politics.

“I look up to presidents and governors,” he said.