Hunger to succeed drives youth of the year



by Donovan Jackson
Air University Public Affairs


4/26/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. - -- Hard work, determination and her hunger to succeed operated as the motivating forces in helping 14-year-old Tiara Wilson become the 2013 Maxwell-Gunter Youth of the Year.

As winner of the Youth of the Year, Tiara will go on to compete at the regional conference June 17-20 in Atlanta. She will be competing with all of the military Youth of the Year representatives from regional states to determine who will represent the south at the national conference in Washington, D.C.

"I'm happy and excited to have been chosen," she said. "It is such an honor for me, and I plan to represent Maxwell and Gunter proudly, with prestige and to the best of my ability."

At the regional conference, Wilson will undergo a rigorous interview process. In addition, she will give a speech explaining why she feels that she should be chosen at the regional level to become the sole representative of the south.

If Tiara wins the regional competition, she will go on to compete at the national level where she will meet President Barack Obama.

"I really do want to win regionals and make it to nationals," she said. "However, if I don't, I will not be upset. Just being blessed with this opportunity and knowing that people think highly of me already makes me a winner, in my opinion."

Wilson's grandfather, Charles Smith, the activity manager at the Gunter fitness center, said he is very proud of what his granddaughter has accomplished.

"I'm really excited that Tiara was chosen to represent Maxwell and Gunter for this program," he said. "Everything she sets her mind to she accomplishes. I know that she has a bright future ahead of her. I am very proud."

Alfred Frazier, program director at the Gunter Youth Center, said Tiara is a role model to the other youth at the center.

"A lot of the youth here really look up to her," he said. "They notice how she takes charge of situations, helps the staff out and how respectful she is and they try to emulate it. Not only is she a role model, but more importantly a good person at heart."

Wilson is a sophomore at Robert E. Lee High School. She loves sports and is on the school's track and field team. At the youth center, her favorite activity is participating in the Cooking Club, where she gets to learn how to cook different items, every other Friday.