A Page in Her Life

by Lisa A. Johnson

Editorial Associate

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    For Paula Korologos, working in the U.S. Senate is more than just a summer job, it’s …

    “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work” (Titus 3:1).

    Chances are you’ve never given much thought to that scripture, but a number of people are busy living it. Paula Korologos, of the Tysons Ward, McLean Virginia Stake, is one of them. She’s been doing “every good work” for the United States government by serving on Capitol Hill as a Senate page.

    Paula seems to glow when she talks about her experiences. After all, she’s about as close as a teenager can get to the country’s governing process. Paula is right there in the same room with the senators as they pass bills that affect the entire country, sometimes the entire world. As the senators make historic speeches, she may bring one of them a drink of water or run important information to and from the senators and their staffs. She does just about everything she can to make the nation’s top lawmakers’ jobs easier. Pages work in the Senate chamber while the governing body is in session. The girls must dress in white blouses and stockings and navy blue pants. “None of the stylish cropped pants or anything like that,” says Paula, with a tinge of regret. “And some of us tried to get away with lace stockings, but that didn’t go over too well either.” The guys dress in white shirts and navy blue ties, pants, and sports coats. Pages must look very dignified at all times, and never, never chew gum while they’re on duty. They must be alert and immaculate as they sit on the Senate steps, ready to jump to service whenever a senator looks at them or snaps his fingers.

    “You have to treat the senators just like kings,” Paula says. “You open doors for them when they go out to receive telephone calls, you have to memorize their messages, and you go all over the Capitol finding them and delivering notes to them.”

    Does her self-described “peon” status ever bother her? “Not at all,” she says. “Sometimes I think, Hey—they deserve it. Look what they’re doing for me. They really are working on bills that they think will help the country.”

    She feels it’s a privilege to help them in return. In fact, probably her favorite part of being a page comes on Tuesday afternoons, when the pages are responsible for preparing a place for and waiting on the vice president during his official luncheon. “It’s really exciting to be in the same room with the vice president and all the other important guests,” she says.

    That enthusiasm is characteristic of Paula, who is more poised than you would think a 15-year-old sophomore could be. Maybe that was why she was called to be head floor page after only three weeks on the job. She believes she was probably selected for the honor because of the responsible attitude she learned by fulfilling her Church callings.

    “As head floor page,” Paula explains, “you have to be really on the ball, you have to make sure everyone’s getting along, and you have to work well with people. That’s where the Church has helped. I’ve had some leadership positions in my Young Women classes, and they really taught me responsibility for work and for people.”

    And there’s another way the Church has helped Paula with her page responsibilities. “When things get really hectic and you don’t know if you’re going to make it through the session, you can always run into the back room and say a little prayer,” she says.

    Her family’s involvement in politics has also been an inspiration to Paula. Both her older brother Phillip and her older sister Ann have taken part in the page program. Their parents are quite involved with politics themselves and encourage their children to be active in the community, in church, and in their schools.

    But the word active might be an understatement where Paula is concerned. During the school year, her day starts with seminary at 6 A.M. and continues on with school, play rehearsals, student government meetings, and piano and voice lessons. Most days she doesn’t get home until around 6 P.M., and then you’ll find her either busy studying or talking on the phone. “My dad always introduces me as ‘the one who’s majoring in telephone,’” she laughs.

    In the summer that routine changes, and most of her energies are spent on the Senate. She lives in Great Falls, Virginia, just a stone’s throw away from Washington, D.C., so she commutes to the capital every day. She never knows exactly how long her day will be, since she must serve the Senate all the time it’s in session. Sometimes she’ll work into the wee hours of the morning, then rise at 5 A.M. to be back the next day.

    Not all pages live close enough to commute from home, however. Since two pages are selected from each state, many live in the dorms near the Capitol. You can imagine the special camaraderie that develops between the pages as they live and work together under high pressure situations. When sessions are out early, softball games between Republican pages and Democrat pages are not uncommon. They also go shopping, sight-seeing, and to movies together.

    And as they relax, they find a little time to discuss each other’s values. “Sometimes when we’re sitting around talking, someone brings up drinking and I say I don’t do it because my religion counsels me not to. Then they all ask, ‘Are you Mormon?’ I say yes, and I usually find that several others in the group are LDS too,” Paula says.

    “Maybe because they know I’m Mormon and because I try to set a good example, people seem to come to me with their problems,” Paula notes. “That’s my chance to do missionary work. It’s hard to come right out and share things, especially in my age group when you’re among a lot of people you don’t know, but when they come to me with their problems, I tell them that this is the way our church teaches about it, and because I follow that I don’t have problems in that area.”

    Paula feels she’s in an ideal position to meet and influence people from all over the country. So just how would you go about putting yourself in a similar position? In order to be a page, you have to write to your senator. Each has different requirements, but they basically suggest you be between 15 and 18 and have good grades, dedication, desire, energy, and a quick mind. “They don’t give you an exam or anything that tests your knowledge of government,” adds Paula.

    You start gaining the necessary knowledge the minute you arrive at the Capitol, though. You have to memorize each senator’s name and face so you can locate him anywhere, at any time. You also have to learn every nook and cranny on Capitol Hill, which is no small task. The complex is so large there is a minisubway in the basement to transport people quickly.

    But in addition to names and places, Paula says you learn important principles while serving as a page. “I’ve come to have a lot of admiration and respect for the leadership of this country,” she said. “I’ve also come to understand more about obedience to the law. You know, the law of the land and the commandments are a lot alike. They’re all given to you as guidelines, but if you break them, you have to pay the price.”

    In spite of the great experiences Paula has had working with the Senate, her first ambitions are not politically oriented. She’s a drama enthusiast and dreams of one day acting on Broadway. “But while I really want to make it on stage, I think the most exciting thing for me would be to get married and to have children,” Paula admits. “Maybe I’ll teach drama someday, after I have my family. I’d like to be an elementary school teacher and be in charge of school plays.”

    But in the meantime, by serving in the Senate, Paula’s testimony of the twelfth article of faith, which states, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law,” has grown. “I’ve been able to be there and watch the government function,” she says. “I love to watch the senators spending their time and energy working on bills that will help people. It’s an incredible experience. I’ve learned so much and made some great friends too.” It has been one of the best pages in her life.

    Photography by Laird Roberts

    Paula’s favorite duty is helping serve the vice president during his official luncheons. As head page, she is also responsible for the way other pages get along and do their jobs.

    Serving as a page has given Paula a chance to see government at work on a daily basis. She watches the senators as they debate, then vote on laws that will govern millions of people. She knows her way around government offices, and enjoys the patriotism and heritage that seem to flourish in Washington, D.C. And she has learned to understand better than ever the importance of each citizen’s responsibility to obey, honor, and sustain the law.