Arkadelphia student Caroline Derby was elected Commissioner of State Lands recently during the 2018 session of Arkansas Girls State held at Harding University in Searcy.
The daughter of Susan and Jay Derby said Girls State taught her that “I have a voice, and I need to use it.” She had not planned to seek office during Girls State but decided during the nominating convention that she would run for land commissioner.
Caroline just completed her junior year at Arkadelphia High School, where she serves as the student body president and is part of the Dazzler Dance Team, AHS Band, Beta Club and Spanish Club. She plans to earn a degree in communications with a minor in political science, building the foundation of her dream job: “I would love to be a broadcast journalist or a press secretary,” she said.
Caroline selected Kamill Evans of McGehee and Gretchen Hall of Marvell as her staff.
Kamill, the daughter of Kerry and Allen Evans, is part of McGehee High School’s cheer, softball and track teams, as well as being a Beta Club member. She practices martial arts and is a lifeguard for McGehee’s country club. She plans to attend college at the University of Arkansas at Monticello and then continue to medical school to become a dermatologist.
She said one of the best parts of Girls State was “singing songs with all of the girls, getting to hear everyone’s voice. We all have different opinions and voices, but when we all sing as one, it’s beautiful.”
Gretchen is the daughter of Holly and Mark Hall and a student at Marvell Academy. She’s on the basketball, softball, track and cheer teams, serves as National Honor Society president and Student Council secretary, and is a member of Spanish Club. Off campus, she’s a member of First Baptist Church of Marvell. She plans to enroll at the University of Mississippi to become a pharmacist.
“I’ve enjoyed meeting so many great girls from Arkansas,” she said. “I will never forget them.”
The three young women spent the day in the Commissioner’s office learning its day-to-day functions and visiting with staff about the different positions in the office.
“Girls State is an excellent and unique opportunity for young women to be exposed to public service and leadership in their state government,” said Commissioner John Thurston.  “I am proud that my office is able to participate in the education of these young women and hope that they consider choosing a career in public service,” he added.
A mythical state created by the Americanism Committee of the American Legion Auxiliary in 1937, Girls State was introduced to Arkansans in 1942.  Its goal is to provide training for Arkansas high school senior girls in the fundamental aspects of citizenship and practical government.  Approximately one thousand girls from across Arkansas attend the conference every year.