‘Asia Military Youth of the Year’ is an Osan senior bound for University of New Mexico
Stars and Stripes April 4, 2023
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A senior at Osan High School was named Asia Military Youth of the Year by the Boys and Girls Club of America at an event Friday at this naval base south of Tokyo.
Parents, teachers and friends cheered Bailee McCollum, 17, of Osan Air Base, South Korea, who also walked away with a $2,500 scholarship and a trip to San Diego, where she will compete for a $20,000 prize at the regional level.
“I’m just really thankful that they chose me to represent all of Asia and I can’t wait to teach people all about military life,” McCollum, originally from Sacramento, Calif., said after accepting her award.
If successful in San Diego, McCollum will continue to the national competition in Washington, D.C., with a chance to win $50,000. During her presentation Friday at the Yokosuka Officers’ Club, McCollum said she plans to study business management at the University of New Mexico.
Now in its 10th year, the Boys and Girls Club of America’s Military Youth of The Year competition recognizes outstanding teens from U.S. military bases worldwide.
“It is important to highlight the youth within the military installations,” said Katie Chavez, an assistant training and curriculum specialist at the Yokosuka Child Development Center. Chavez was also the event coordinator.
“This is a fantastic way to do it,” she said.
Competitors at the regional level wrote four essays about subjects such as their club or youth center experiences, personal growth and personal experiences as a child of a service member.
McCollum competed alongside nine other candidates from her region: Sakura Amanda, 18, of Yokosuka; Mia “Adele” Chapa, 14, of Singapore; Jazlynn Lorenzo, 16, of Misawa Air Base, Japan; Dylan Lentz, 15, of Daegu, South Korea; Sarah Kouevigou, 14, of Kadena Air Base, Japan; Mikio Norton, 18, of Camp Zama, Japan; Isabel Hyider, 13, of Guam; Daniella Reyes, 18, of Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan; and Noah DiBiase, of Kwajalein Atoll.
“This was really eye-opening to see how far I came as a person in general,” said Lorenzo, the runner-up. She said she plans to use the experience to prepare her college applications.
Winners of the National Military Youth of the Year award go on to compete against the five regional winners from non-military Boys & Girls Clubs for the overall national title.
That award comes with a prize of $50,000 in scholarship money and a new Toyota car.