Fresh blood: Jamestown’s Looysen is state’s youngest lawmakerJamestown College student Alex Looysen is taking this semester off, but instead of traveling abroad or working on an internship, he is serving as one of two North Dakota representatives for District 12 in the Legislature. Looysen, R-Jamestown, is a 21-year-old junior studying biology at Jamestown College. He is the son of Barb and Steve Looysen of Jamestown. He is the youngest legislator serving in the North Dakota Legislative Session this year.
By: By Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Jamestown College student Alex Looysen is taking this semester off, but instead of traveling abroad or working on an internship, he is serving as one of two North Dakota representatives for District 12 in the Legislature.
Looysen, R-Jamestown, is a 21-year-old junior studying biology at Jamestown College. He is the son of Barb and Steve Looysen of Jamestown.
He is the youngest legislator serving in the North Dakota Legislative Session this year.
The session begins today, generally coinciding with Jamestown College’s spring semester, which begins next week. The session must be complete by May 1 at the latest — a week before the spring semester ends.
Looysen has taken the semester off to devote time to his new position.
“I’ll be on track to graduate within four and a half years, whether it be taking some extra summer classes or taking that extra semester,” Looysen said, adding that he believes the experience will be worth delaying a semester of college.
He plans to continue his schooling after graduating from Jamestown College, with the intent of becoming an optometrist.
“I think this will be a very good experience,” Looysen said of being a representative.
His teachers have already helped him ensure his political work doesn’t impact his schoolwork. During his orientation to the Legislature, he was permitted to take one test early and make up some lab work late.
When Looysen’s academic adviser Cindy Ault saw that he was running for office, her first question was how it would affect the student’s academic career.
“He had already thought that out before he ever started running,” Ault said. “It might delay him. I remember talking to him about it, and him giving his probable timeline for (graduation).”
And just in case he lost the election, Looysen chose classes to take for the spring semester. As it turned out, however, he won, along with Democrat Jessica Haak.
Looysen managed to avoid one potential problem presented by a missed semester. Genetics, a required class for Looysen’s major, used to be taught only every other year, but college officials recently decided to offer the course every year instead, Ault said. That means Looysen will not have to wait a year to catch the class or take it alone as a directed study.
Lawmakers at work
“It’s exciting. I really do feel honored,” Looysen said of being elected to represent District 12. “I was glad I got the support of the community in the end.”
He and the half-dozen other young lawmakers also have the general support of the older legislators. Both those in Looysen’s old caucus and those across the aisle have been respectful of the young people so far, he said.
“I was a little nervous at first, but it’s been heartwarming to go in there and get respect with other legislators and get things done,” Looysen said. “It’s good to see younger faces involved in seeing which direction our state is heading.”
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be
reached at 701-952-8453
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