CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- Being a military child means having a brave heart and resilient soul. For one junior at SHAPE American High School in Belgium, the experiences of growing up in a military environment are preparing her for the competition of a lifetime.

Carsyn Shuey will represent U.S. Army Garrison Benelux in the American Legion National Oratorical Competition in Indianapolis, Indiana, in April, where 52 other contestants and she will compete for an $18,000 scholarship.

She is the daughter of Army Lt. Col. Josh Shuey, an assistant legal advisor at SHAPE, and Lara Shuey, a registrar at SHAPE American High School.

She previously won the American Legion "Flanders Field" Post BE02's contest in December and then earned first place in the Department of France competition in February. During each competition, Carsyn recited a speech about the 15th Amendment and American citizens' duty to uphold the U.S. Constitution.

She had tough competition and wowed judges with her stage presence and ability to recite speeches from memory.

"When Carsyn came out on stage and started her speech, she projected an aura of self-confidence. Right from the beginning she captivated the judges and the audience," said Joseph Schram, commander, adjutant and service officer of American Legion "Flanders Field" Post BE02.

"There is no question she was the best contestant at both the American Legion Post BE02 and Department of France competitions."

Carsyn has the support of her family, friends and teachers. Her parents credit the strong academics at SHAPE American High School and a teacher's encouragement for Carsyn's performance in the speech competition.

"As Carsyn loves performing and wants to pursue a career in music and drama, opportunities like this where she is performing in front of a crowd are really great for her," said Josh.

"She has had good instruction in Advanced Placement language and history at SHAPE American High School, so that certainly helps. For this competition, her participation grew out of a classroom assignment and her teacher's support."

Carsyn has a busy schedule as she balances her studies and extracurricular activities. After she graduates high school, Carsyn plans to major in musical theater or English and playwriting and go into the performing arts.

For now, her focus is on the competition as she recites her speeches daily. She said the memorization aspect is one of the biggest stressors in the competition, and rehearsing day after day is key to not forgetting her lines.

As a military child, she credits her upbringing for her ability to handle life challenges, especially while living in an international environment.

"To me, being a military child means being able to sacrifice certain aspects of one's individual life in order to serve a higher purpose. It means to be willing and excited to adapt and to thrive within new environments. It is to say goodbye to old friends, but it is also to say hello to new ones who will share unique perspectives and who will create with you everlasting memories," she said.

"It is to leave behind comforting and familiar places, but it is also to invite new and foreign lands, and to experience rich and diverse culture that so many others can only dream of. Being a military child means being able to sacrifice and being able to adapt, and ultimately, being able to make the best out of each and every experience that arises' in one's life."

Schram is confident that Carsyn will represent the community well in the national competition.

"Having attended the American Legion National Oratorical Contest on several occasions, I have had the opportunity to see the best student orators in the country. The composition of Carsyn's speech, her confidence and her demeanor on stage places her at this level of performance," he concluded.