WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 13, 2015) -- Two Army teens were recognized as regional winners and runner-ups for this year's Boys & Girls Clubs of America's "Military Youth of the Year" title during a ceremony held at the Navy Memorial Naval Heritage Center.
An Air Force teen, RianSimone Harris, was named the 2015 National Military Youth of the Year.
Kathryn "Katy" Combs, representing White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, received the Southwest Region and New Mexico State Military Youth of the Year Award. Daniela Suarez, representing Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, received the Pacific Region and Washington State Youth of the Year Award.
As regional winners, Combs and Suarez were each awarded a $10,000 college scholarship, renewable for four years up to $40,000.
During their excursion in the nation's capital, they toured the Pentagon and met with military leaders such as Rosemary Williams, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, and Lt. Gen. David D. Halverson, commanding general for U.S. Army Installation Management Command and Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management.
"For nearly 25 years, CYSS has partnered with BGCA to provide our youth programs with access to monetary grants, no-cost training, and curriculum," said Cherri Verschraegen, Child, Youth and School Services chief at IMCOM.
"The Military Youth of the Year program is a wonderful example of how this partnership benefits our Army youth and Families," Verschraegen said. "Daniela and Katy are shining examples of Army youth, and we are extremely proud of their accomplishments."
Combs and Suarez demonstrated exemplary service at their local youth centers and communities in addition to embodying the values of leadership service, academic excellence, and healthy lifestyles.
Combs is the daughter of Charles and Rebecca Dirks. Charles is an engineering technician, and Rebecca, an administrative assistant for U.S. Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's CYSS, both at WSMR.
She is an incoming senior at Arrowhead Park Early College High School in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Her extracurricular activities include being an officer in the National Honor Society.
She also spent hundreds of hours volunteering in her community. Notable activities included organizing care packages for the Forgotten Soldier Campaign, developing anti-bullying and anti-drug campaigns within her school, and mentoring youth at WSMR's Middle School and Teen Program.
She is scheduled to graduate in May, 2016, with a high school diploma and an associate's degree of science. She plans to attend medical school to become an OB/GYN physician specializing in high risk pregnancies.
Suarez is the daughter of Daniel Hoferer, who served active-duty military for seven years and is now in the Army Reserve, and Maria America-Hoferer.
She is an incoming junior at North Thurston High School in Lacey, Washington. Her extracurricular activities include being member in the National Honor Society and tutoring math.
For the last four years, she has been very active at the JBLM youth centers. She is involved in BGCA programs like the Keystone Club, Diploma2Degree and SMART Girls -- a self-esteem enhancement program for girls with an emphasis on health, fitness, prevention and education.
After high school, she plans to continue her education at the U.S. Air Force Academy. She aspires to become an astronautic engineer.