Teen face Marylyn Doung, a junior at Piner High School, has political aspirations and likes to make things with duct tape, such as her messenger bag and book cover. (Photo by Scott Manchester / The Press Democrat)


Marylyn Doung of Santa Rosa is willing to step out, whether playing on her high school’s virtually all-male, JV football team or going to a young women’s political conference in Southern California.

“So bold, unafraid” is how the Piner High junior is described by her AP English Teacher, Simone Spearman.

She recalled how at a school pep rally Duong quickly went forth with other students who accepted a challenge to shoot free throws, even though she was one of the few, if not the only, young women to do so.

Duong is a top student and unafraid to ask questions in her English class, Spearman said. And she has demonstrated an interest in all types of human rights issues.

Duong, 17, last month went to Los Angeles to attend the Young Women’s Political Leadership Program, hosted by the Washington-based nonprofit Running Start.

She was the only young woman from Sonoma County to receive one of five scholarships that PG&E Co. provided for those attending the event. In all, about 100 young women took part in the gathering held at the University of Southern California.

Doung wanted to attend after getting interested in women’s rights and others political topics that she studied last fall in her AP history course.

“I thought it would be a great experience for me to learn about politics,” she said.

One thing she brought back was the concept of the “elevator speech,” a quick pitch used in fundraising. A speaker emphasized the such pitches must be short and must quickly convey why donors should give to your cause.

“You only have 21 seconds to capture a person’s attention.” Duong said.

The young women had a chance to learn about the concept through role playing. Each was handed $1,000 to $10,000 in fake money, given a new political identity and told to prepare a quick pitch.

Duong portrayed Hillary Rodham Clinton and said she donated her $10,000 to those promising to help women or improve health care. Her own fundraising efforts during the exercise brought in more than $20,000, one of the larger totals raised.

She came away from the event thinking she might want to run for Congress some day, even though speakers emphasized such efforts take plenty of work.

“We learned that to be in politics and to fundraise, it really does take all of your time,” she said.

Back at home, Duong recently joined the Sonoma County Commission on Human Rights’ Junior Commission.

She is enrolled in Piner’s early college program and this year has taken classes at Santa Rosa Junior College.

An only child, she came to the county when she was about 5years old. Before entering Piner, she attended Comstock Middle School.

After Piner, she said she wants to attend a four-year college but is still considering what she might major in.

At Piner, she has played basketball and plans to play badminton this spring. As a sophomore, she joined the junior varsity football squad, playing linebacker and offensive guard.

She took to the field in games toward the end of the season.

“I got two tackles,” she recalled.

You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 521-5285 or robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.com