Fort Knox’s Devers Middle School and Teen Center has done it again.Nichole Tatu, a 17-year-old junior at Fort Knox Middle High School, earned a college scholarship and took home the top prize at the 2020 Kentucky State Military Youth of the Year competition March 11.As a member of the Boys & Girls Club of America at Devers, Tatu has become the eighth state winner in as many years and could become the fourth in a row to earn the regional title for the Fort Knox chapter as well as the fifth since 2013.“This [contest] rewards youth from the Boys & Girls Club for their academic excellence and for their community service and leadership in the community,” said Rayceil Oggs, Child and Youth Services coordinator at Fort Knox. “This program inspires our youth to serve others in the community.”Oggs said Tatu and her mentors worked hard to get her where she is today.“Nichole and the staff have put endless hours into this, and that has helped her to take on this role as a community leader,” said Oggs. “It’s a life changing experience for those youth who really get into the program and focus on what they want to do.”Candace Siagatonu, a Child and Youth Services program assistant and Tatu’s personal mentor, said the program prepares contestants for a life of service.“These contestants must attend a Boys & Girls Club for at least two years, so they know what they’re signing up for,” Siagatonu said. “They’re working on community projects, they’re writing essays about their service, and they’re speaking before [audiences] about what they’ve overcome and how they will use those experiences to affect the community.”Tatu said the contest helped her see beyond herself to the needs of others.“When I first came here, I was very introverted, and after my grandmother’s death I isolated myself from others,” Tatu said. “The Devers staff helped me to help myself by helping others around me.”Serving others required Tatu to become a leader, she said.“Music has been a big part of who I am and how I deal with things,” said Tatu. She plays the flute and percussion instruments. “I wanted others to have that, too.… I’m leading an effort to bring more music and arts programs to the Boys & Girls Clubs.”She’s applied her leadership skills in other areas too.“I’ve taken on more and different leadership roles in 4-H club and as the class president for the junior class at the high school,” Tatu said.Oggs said the program prepares contestants with needed skill sets for life and the workplace.“She’s written essays about her challenges and her service to the community. She’s learned to promote her brand by promoting the [proposal] for the art and music programs, and she’s delivered her speech before different interview panels and audiences,” said Oggs. “That all correlates to life skills [like] filling out college applications, writing resumes, interviewing for a job, dressing for an interview, and how to speak at interviews.“She’s learning all that now through this process.”Siagatonu said college is the ultimate goal of the program.“This is an international scholarship program,” she said. “With each win, the contestant earns more scholarship money to be divided over their college career.”The award has been a big help to college bound students, according to Oggs.“It really adds up and helps her and her family pay for her education,” said Oggs. “She could win up to a year toward her bachelor’s degree.”Tatu said the program helps her college aspirations in more ways than one.“I participate a lot in my community,” she said. “And colleges are not only looking for someone doing well in school but also for someone who’s doing good things for the community.”