Like most 8-year-olds, Genea Harrison is not yet sure what she wants to do when she grows up.
But the rising fourth-grader at Rosa L. Parks Elementary in Hyattsville said she is certain of one thing: “I really want to be in charge one day of something.”
On Tuesday, she got her chance.
As the winner of an essay contest run by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), Genea was honored as the Governor for a Day. Genea was sworn into office at the Maryland State Office in Annapolis, spending Tuesday speaking with ambassadors, attending meetings and working with speech writers.
In her winning essay, Genea wrote about the importance of education, public safety, job creation and the environment.
“We chose Genea after reviewing many highly qualified and diverse applicants because she represents the better choices each of us can make to create a stronger Maryland for generations to come,” O’Malley said in a statement.
Genea said she is always ready to help her classmates. During recess, while most of the other students play outside, Genea said she visits her old teachers and assists in their classrooms.
“She’s very outgoing and friendly,” said Tara Minter, Rosa L. Parks Elementary principal. “She’s always the teacher’s helper and always someone that the teacher can depend on in the classroom.”
Right now, Genea said she is obsessed with science, explaining that she likes exploding things and taking things apart.
Genea said dissecting a frog was one of her favorite activities in school this past year.
“I was jumping around happy, and all the other girls and boys were all like, ‘Ew,’” she said.
Genea’s interest in science expands beyond the classroom. At home, she enjoys conducting the experiments in her science book.
“She’s always going through there, thinking ‘Which one can I do next?’” said Angie Runyon, Genea’s mother.
Outside the classroom, Genea enjoys dancing, drawing, swimming and occasionally teasing her 5-year-old brother, a kindergartner at Rosa Parks Elementary.
Genea was nervous about her day in the spotlight, saying she was not looking forward to the paparazzi, but when she’s a little older, she said she might be back.
“I see every day that a man can take charge, but I think women can too,” Genea said.