Va. teen to get Military Child of the Year Award
By JEREMY SLAYTON | Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va. | Published: April 11, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. — Nicole Daly is just 16 years old but has already moved nine times and attended three high schools. But that hasn’t deterred her from excelling in the classroom or becoming involved in her community.
In fact, the nomadic lifestyle of a military family has helped Nicole foster a positive attitude to help ease her transition to new environments, schools and friends. A junior at Prince George High School, she takes part in Model United Nations, the Chemistry Club and earned a varsity letter in cross country and track.
She is just as involved outside of school. She volunteers weekly at the Fort Lee Thrift Shop and at events to support the College Scholarship Fund for the Fort Lee Area Spouse’s Club.
Last year, she spent more than 150 hours on weekends visiting National Guard and Reserve units to teach soldiers and dependents about their education benefits.
“Every time I move somewhere, I try to get involved … because that is where you meet the majority of your friends,” said Nicole. “I’ve realized, even though some people aren’t as friendly at first, you have to be the one to reach out. As soon as you reach out, everyone else is very friendly back.”
Nicole, who is ranked at the top of her class with a 4.7 grade-point average, will be recognized in Arlington today with a Military Child of the Year Award by Operation Homefront. She is one of five recipients representing each branch of the military. Winners receive a trip to Washington, a laptop computer and a $5,000 prize.
Her father, Edward, is the chief of ordnance and commandant of the U.S. Army Ordnance School at Fort Lee. Her mother, Cathy, is a former quartermaster officer.
This is the fifth year military children will be recognized by Operation Homefront, a nonprofit organization that provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors. The organization received nearly 1,000 nominations across all five branches.
“It’s a way to show our military families, and particularly our military kids, that the entire country appreciates not just their parents’ service, but their service as well,” said Operation Homefront spokesman Aaron Taylor.
Taylor noted that each of the five recipients will be awarded by a high-ranking member of that military branch. Nicole will receive her award from Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the Army chief of staff.
Nicole was nominated for the award by her school counselor, Tara Bauman-Seely, who called the teen a role model for military students.
Bauman-Seely wrote that Nicole “is truly an example of a well-rounded student and immediately embraced her new environment and involved herself with extracurricular activities.”
Nicole was born in Petersburg, but has since lived across the globe, including Korea and Milan, Italy. Those experiences helped her develop an appreciation for different cultures.
Nicole will finish high school in Prince George before heading off to college. She wants to attend Princeton University and possibly study law. And maybe serve in the military, like her parents.
If moving has taught her anything, it’s prepared her for life, which is about change and adaptability, she said.
“You can really feel bad for yourself, but at the same time, the advantages that you’ve gained, learning to adapt to this change, so young, is something I think is to be cherished,” Nicole said.