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Hanscom member named regional ‘Youth of the Year’ finalist

Zack Fernandez, Army family member, poses with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, at the State House in Boston, Mass., after being named the Hanscom Air Force Base 2019 Youth of the Year. Fernandez is the first member to receive the title in back-to-back years. (Courtesy photo)

Zack Fernandez, Army family member, poses with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, at the State House in Boston, Mass., in 2019. Fernandez advanced as one of two finalists during the virtual Northeast Region event on Aug. 31, where he competed against seven other military youths. (Courtesy photo)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – A Hanscom resident who is a senior at Bedford High School has been named a 2020 Northeast Regional Military Youth of the Year finalist.

Zack Fernandez advanced as one of two finalists during the virtual Northeast Region event on Aug. 31, where he competed against seven other military youths.

“I am extremely excited that my voice is being heard and that my story is standing out,” said Fernandez, who has been a member of the 66th Force Support Squadron Youth Center since 2013.

He is now vying for the National Military Youth of the Year, a component of the Boys and Girls Club of America that recognizes a military installation Youth Center member who has overcome hardships while demonstrating exceptional character and accomplishments.

Fernandez, who has overcome some of his reading disability, will read an essay he wrote about his personal challenges and struggle to “fit in” as a military child, to a virtual panel of judges Sept. 16, before the winners are announced.

“I’m so proud of Zack and everything he’s overcome getting to this point,” said Justin Oliver, the teen coordinator for Youth Programs here. “He works so hard to better himself every day, and he’s so deserving of this opportunity.”

Earlier this year, Fernandez was the first member to have ever been named the Hanscom Youth of the Year two consecutive years.

“The past two years have been amazing,” said Fernandez. “Every day is an opportunity to grow, and there’s nothing to lose.”