Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the 2013 Inaugural Military Youth of the Year Celebration held at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. At this event, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) announced the first-ever Military Youth of the Year winner. This distinct honor recognizes an outstanding military youth that overcame enormous odds with exceptional accomplishments. Members of the BGCA were judged on their community service, grades, speeches, and interviews.
This year’s winner is RaShaan Allen from Fort Knox, Kentucky. RaShaan was one of six regional finalists and will now serve as BGCA’s official youth advocate for the 500,000 military youth that belong to BGCA. RaShaan demonstrates extraordinary character and is a true testament to how someone can overcome adversities and prevail.
Growing up, RaShaan faced many challenges: his mother’s deployment, the lack of a father figure in his life, the eight moves he underwent in one year, and the loss of his home, his neighborhood, his school and his best friend during Hurricane Katrina. Despite these adversities, RaShaan participated extensively in extracurricular activities and served as co-president of the Club Youth Council and as Army Family Action Plan delegate. In high school, he played eight varsity sports and served as president for his freshman and senior classes. Currently, RaShaan is a student at Western Kentucky University, where he plans to major in political science.
RaShaan now advances as a finalist for the National Youth of the Year title. The overall winner will be announced next week and will serve as the National Teen Spokesperson for the Boys and Girls Club of America. Joining Forces applauds RaShaan for all his hard work and accomplishments. By being a strong role model, he will no doubt help other military youth to achieve success in their own lives.
Commander Cara LaPointe, US Navy, is a White House Fellow in the Office of the First Lady.