Nickel, an upcoming senior at Notre Dame and daughter of Jeanne and Randy Nickel of Crowley, was elected State Governor during the 2010 Girls State, held from Sunday, June 27 through Saturday, July 3.
“I was shocked. I went into Girls State knowing I wanted to run for a state office and when I got there I just decided to go for it,” she said. “It was really fun, sometimes nerve wracking and a few late nights with writing speeches.”
The girls are all assigned a political party, either Federalist or Nationalist. Nickel ran and won as a Federalist.
Girls and Boys State has been at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches every year since 2007. Prior to that, the events were held at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
The week-long event is primarily designed to teach upcoming seniors about government, but for Nickel the experience was more than just a chance to learn about government.
“I guess learning about government and the ins and outs of politics is the main thing, but you learn how to be yourself as well,” she said.
Girls State begins by placing all the girls in various “cities” and “parishes.” Nickel was a “citizen” of the City of Tammany, a part of Tchefuncte Parish. In total Girls State has 20 cities and 10 parishes.
“It was amazing, I had a wonderful time,” said Nickel.
And while most would rate the experience as fun, there is some work involved.
“I got about five and a half hours of sleep each night,” she said.
As a part of Girls State each citizen must have an office, which means each has a job. Before running for state office, Nickel was elected to the House of Representatives.
And although Nickel wasn’t a huge fan of the food, she definitely enjoyed most everything else.
“I loved meeting all the new people, all the different girls were very sweet and smart,” she said. “I enjoyed making new friends.”
And as for those chants.
“There were so many awesome ones that I can’t choose a favorite.”
Girls State counselors usually teach the girls several chants to help pass the time walking from location to location on campus as well as part of adding city and parish pride.
Nickel will also have the opportunity to return next year as a counselor, something she has already stated she definitely will be doing. Each year, Girls State invites several members of the current year’s group to return the next year as counselors.
“It’s an experience I’ll remember forever.”