FORT JACKSON, SC -- For the last several years, 15-year-old Mary Shiver has been striving for academic success while volunteering her time with the Fort Jackson community. Now all of her hard work and dedication might get her the chance to be recognized by the president of the United States.

Today, as the Youth of the Year for the Fort Jackson Boys and Girls Club, Shiver will compete for the 2010 South Carolina Youth of the Year title in downtown Columbia.

Shiver will be among hundreds of local youth across the state recognized by Boys & Girls Clubs of America for character, leadership skills and a willingness to give back to the community, said James Andrews, with Child, Youth and School Services.

"Being named Youth of the Year is the highest honor a Boys and Girls Club member can receive," Andrews said. "The title recognizes outstanding contributions to a member's family, school, community and Boys and Girls Club, as well as personal challenges and obstacles overcome."

Shiver, the daughter of retired Sgt. 1st Class Willie J. Shiver and Thalyia Shiver, has been a member of the Boys & Girls Club since the fourth grade. Now a sophomore at Blythewood High School, Shiver said she plans to pursue a degree in education and culinary arts from the University of South Carolina Upstate upon graduation.

Shiver is involved in several community activities, such as mentoring and tutoring younger elementary students, and participating in Junior Leaders, Habitat for Humanity and in Haiti relief efforts.

Shiver said she feels that being a part of a military family poses a unique challenge for youth such as herself.

"The sacrifice that military families make for freedom and peace is something that I will always be proud and glad that my family is and continues to be a part of," Shiver said.
"Mary is a super role model," said Rose Edmond, CYSSAca,!E+chief. "She is a true example of an extraordinary young woman," Andrews said.

The BGCA was founded more than 60 years ago by the Reader's Digest Foundation.
If Shiver wins today, she will receive a $1,000 scholarship from the foundation, a chance to compete for another $10,000 scholarship and the title of South East Region Youth of the Year.

Five regional winners will advance to Washington in September, to compete for the title of BGCA's National Youth of the Year, an additional $15,000 college scholarship and a chance to be recognized by President Barack Obama in an Oval Office ceremony.