Kirtland teen earns title of NM Military Youth of the Year

  • Published
  • Senior Airman Kiana Pearson, Kirtland Public Affairs

The 2020 New Mexico Military Youth of the Year, Bethany Chacon, is no stranger to Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.

Chacon started at the military youth center in the 3rd grade. She has been actively engaged with in the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s, 4-H and Teen Programs at the youth center.

The Military Youth of the Year program, established in 2013, is a component of the BGCA’s Youth of the Year program and recognizes teens, 14 to 18, who serve at BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers around military installations.

Amid COVID-19, Chacon had to compete online. She was interviewed on Zoom by different BGCA judges.

“Being able to accomplish something like this virtually is the highlight of my life,” said Chacon.

According to Chacon, she had to write four essays, a three-minute speech and provide academic transcripts.

“The essays covered what matters to me, my personal brand, my military experience and club experience,” shared Chacon.

“Towards middle school and high school, I came back for the summers and I did teen volunteering,” said Chacon. “I would mentor other students and helped wherever the staff needed me to.”

“Bethany has been a Teen Volunteer for the youth center for two years,” said Lucy Burbach, recreational specialist, Kirtland Youth Center. “She would assist getting open recreation ready for daily activities and would mentor youth, ages 9-18.”

Chacon says that the program instilled confidence in her. “As a military child, we have a legacy and I don’t want to hide it.”

“She is inspirational to all the youth and staff at the youth center,” said Burbach.

Chacon recently graduated high school with honors while maintaining a 4.0 GPA and plans to attend New Mexico State University in the fall. The $2,500 college scholarship will help her further her education goals in studying either engineering or government/international relations.

She will continue to compete for Military Youth of the Year at the regional level in the fall, for a chance at an additional $20,000 in college scholarships.