HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – A freshman at Bedford High School has been named this year’s Hanscom Youth of the Year.
Emily Doucette, who has been a member of the 66th Force Support Squadron Youth Center since 2018, was chosen from three candidates March 30. She will now compete for the Massachusetts Military Youth of the Year title next month.
“This year was different than any other, so to have three candidates was rare and challenging in the best way,” said Justin Oliver, teen coordinator for Youth Programs here. The other Hanscom nominees for youth of the year were Annaleigh Boblett and Morgan Gibson, both of whom Oliver also lauded.
The Military Youth of the Year honor is a component of the Boys and Girls Club of America National Youth of the Year program. It recognizes a Youth Center member on a military installation who has overcome enormous odds and demonstrated exceptional character and accomplishments.
Each of the candidates had to submit a cover letter, resume, two letters of recommendation, prepare a speech and submit four essays. Essay topics include the candidates’ experience in the program and as a military child, what matters to them and obstacles they have overcome.
In her speech, Doucette noted she wants to be an advocate for military youth faced with ever-changing environments.
“I want to see more opportunities provided for teens to positively use their voice without necessarily being a part of a club or holding some type of title,” she wrote. “No teen should feel like an outsider because they’ve moved a lot or aren’t part of a clique. When everyone from different backgrounds comes together, change can happen.”
Oliver said he doesn’t envy the judges who had to select a single winner.
“It’s easy to see Emily’s leadership qualities as soon as you meet her,” said Oliver. “She is ready and willing to jump in and support our community at every opportunity.”
This past year, Doucette served as the Keystone Club’s vice president, and created a social media platform to keep Youth Center members connected throughout quarantine.
Doucette’s title was announced two days before the Month of the Military Child began April 1, an annual recognition of the sacrifices and contributions of children in military families.
“Military youth are caring, supportive and resilient,” said Colleen Davis, 66 FSS Youth Programs director. “They adapt to changes, even when it’s hard, and have a way of turning it into a positive.”
Oliver worked closely with candidates during the process, and said he is always inspired and enlightened to hear their stories.
“It’s incredible to watch them define their identities and their values when everything in their world is changing,” he said. “I always encourage our candidates, and all of our youth, to share their stories because they have so much value, whether they realize it or not.”