By Laura KreiderMay 23, 2019
VICENZA, Italy (May 22, 2019) - Vicenza High School junior Bridget Craig, 17, was chosen as Europe's Military Youth of the Year (MYOY) earlier this month after tough competition at Royal Air Force Base Mildenhall, England.
The Military Youth of the Year honor is a component of the Boys and Girls Club of America Youth of the Year program. It celebrates young people of military installations around the world, ages 14 to 18, for their commitment to community service, academic success, good character and citizenship, and establishing long-term goals.
"The competition here selects one student from a pool of applicants to represent the Vicenza Military Community in competition in Europe and the United States," said Josienne Broccoli, assistant director at the Vicenza Teen Center.
According to Broccoli, the journey to being named National Youth of the Year begins locally and progresses to the state, regional and national levels. Nominees must embody the values of leadership and service; academic excellence; and healthy lifestyles. Craig competed here among other students and was named United States Army Garrison Italy Youth of the Year.
"Bridget stood out among a group of tough competitors to win," added Broccoli.
After being selected here, she traveled to Royal Air Force Mildenhall and competed against 18 other teenagers representing their respective European installations and bases. In addition to Vicenza, other Air Force, Army, and Navy bases were represented in the competition were USAG Grafenwoehr; RAF Mildenhall; RAF Lakenheath; USAG Baumholder; Ramstein Air Base; USAG Rheinland-Pfalz; Naval Station Rota; USAG Stuttgart; Aviano Air Base; USAG Schinnen; Vogelweh; Naval Support Activity Naples; Naval Support Activity Bahrain; USAG Ansbach; Naval Air Station Sigonella; RAF Alconbury; USAG Hohenfels; and Spangdahlem Air Base.
"I am very grateful to have gained the experience from the Youth of the Year event," said Craig. "I would like to thank all the people who helped guide me. I was so glad to meet all the participants who did a great job."
Craig is currently a junior at Vicenza High School. In addition to her academic achievements, she is an active member in the Keystone Club, a teen-led club dedicated to community service and leadership; the Booster Club; and the American Red Cross. She helped with a fundraiser, a blood drive, and a food drive for an animal shelter in downtown Vicenza.
Craig can often be found at the Vicenza Teen Center with other students staying active, building lasting friendships and dedicating time to community service and leadership.
"My experience working with Bridget has been a true privilege. Bridget's dedication and commitment to standing up for what she believes in, making a change, and being the voice of her peers is not for personal gain. Of course having the chance to take part in the Youth of the Year competition is an extraordinary opportunity in Bridget's eyes; however, regardless of the outcome, she will continue to devote her time to changing the world one step at a time. I have no doubt that with her perseverance and determination she will continue to make a difference. I am very proud of her, from the bottom of my heart," said Broccoli.
Craig's European MYOY honors includes a $5,000 scholarship toward post-secondary education. Next, she will travel to Orlando, Florida, in July and compete for Overseas Region MYOY with a $20,000 scholarship prize. The winner there goes on to compete for the National MYOY scholarship of $40,000; and finally, the top prize of a $100,000 scholarship and a brand new vehicle from Toyota as the Boys and Girls Club of America National Youth of the Year.
After graduating from high school, Craig would like to attend the University of Michigan.
Established in 1947, Youth of the Year is Boys & Girls Clubs of America's premier recognition program. Military Youth of the Year, a distinct component of the Youth of the Year program, was introduced In 2013 to recognize outstanding teens served by BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide.