Fort Polk Community
Boys, Girls Club Youth of Year chosen to represent Fort Polk
Story by Chuck Cannon on 03/11/2019
Guardian staff writer
FORT POLK, La. Fort Polk Child and Youth Services Middle School and Teen program Youth of the Year for 2019 is Destiny Ross, 15. She is the daughter of Staff Sgt. Allan Ross, Joint Readiness Training Center Operations Group, and his spouse Maria. Ross attends DeRidder High School. She loves to take pictures and tentatively plans to become a photographer.
The Youth of the Year takes part in the Louisiana Boys and Girls Club Military Youth of the Year competition.
The Boys and Girls Club of America is a program for teens and adults, which helps develop leadership skills and apply those skills to personal and community issues, according to Loretta McGowan, CYS workforce preparation specialist.
McGowan said Destiny is an amazing young lady.
“She represents the voice and spirit of hope for America and inspires other youth to lead and succeed,” she said.
As the Fort Polk representative in the Youth of the Year competition, Ross will participate at the state level in Baton Rouge April 4-5.
If she wins at the state level, she will receive a $5,000 scholarship and move on to regional level held in Atlanta, Georgia, June 17-19. If Ross wins at the regional level, she receives a $10,000 college scholarship, renewable for up to four years, equaling $40,000.
Regionals winners advance to the National level in Washington Sept. 21-26. The National winner receives a $25,000 college scholarship, renewable for up to four years, equaling $100,000.
McGowan said the Youth of the Year candidate embodies the BGCA mission and qualities of leadership, character and service along with academic excellence and a healthy lifestyle.
“Destiny has those qualities, as well as a purpose-driven awareness of the challenges facing young people today,” she said. “She exemplifies the impact the Fort Polk Youth Center has on our youth.”
Ross will write a speech that represents who she is as a military youth and what she believes in and then relay those words to a panel of judges and in front of an audience.
This competition increases the candidate’s ability to engage with various audiences on youth issues, said McGowan.
“It is with delight that I watch the Youth of the Year learn to effectively communicate and build relationships while acquiring new skills and growing into the people they are meant to be,” she said.
Ross said she was honored and ecstatic to be chosen as Youth of the Year. “It took a lot of work to get here and I know I still have a lot to do, but I think it will be worth it,” she said.
One of the most difficult things will be learning to speak in front of a large crowd, said Ross.
“But I’m going to do it, no matter what,” she said.
Ross said she wants to make a difference. As Youth of the Year she can share who she is and the challenges she has faced.
“I want to present a positive message to other youth that they can relate to. I want them to know I understand what they are going through and hopefully help them learn to better cope with whatever life throws at them. I’m excited to tell my story,” she said.