ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Hannah Bradley, a local military child, recently earned the Boys and Girls Club of America’s “Youth of the Year” title for her participation in Altus Air Force Base youth programs, academic achievements, and volunteer work.
To earn the title, teens have to be at least 14 years old with two years of youth programs experience and must win the competition at their local organization. Next, they compete at higher levels for various scholarships.
Bradley is the current Keystone Club president, an Air Force Youth Program organized by the Altus AFB Youth Center. Through the Keystone Club, teens learn life skills, perform volunteer work, pursue leadership roles, and have a social outlet.
This is Bradley’s third time being named the local Youth of the Year, which allows her to compete at the state level for scholarship opportunities. However, it was the first time she had to compete for the title digitally due to the recent Coronavirus threat.
“Oddly enough, it felt scarier,” said Bradley. “Although I could not physically see the judges very well, I was nervous as to how I physically looked on camera and worried about the video quality. I also found it challenging to not interrupt when the judges were speaking. Everyone was very nice to me as usual, and it overall was a very positive experience.”
While Hannah Bradley has been a military child for as long as she can remember, she is currently a junior in high school who will soon face her life’s next stages.
“Now more than ever, I have to think about what my next steps are going to be in my life; what college I will go to, where my parents will end up, where I will work, how I will live and I am anxious to see how everything will turn out,” said Bradley. “In a sort of way that another person may feel about moving, with a sense of dread and the unknown and a wretch at the heart to have to change. This experience has made me look back at myself, and who I am. The moves I have been through, the people I have met and left, and the places I have seen.”
Bradley said that her fellow Keystone Club members and her family have pushed her to become who she is and that she looks forward to taking on the challenges set before her.
“Even if I don't win, I took on the challenge and tried my best,” said Bradley. “I’ve learned that sometimes things will be different than what is expected; that’s okay. Those unexpected things will pop up even when something is planned to the ‘T,’ so it’s best to work your way with what you have.”
This year, Bradley was the state runner-up and is proud of the title she received. Reflecting on the experience, Bradley said she is grateful for the opportunities she’s received and encourages others to be opportunistic and resilient when it comes to their individual learning experiences.
“I feel really good about the whole experience,” said Bradley. “I was named runner-up and received a $2,500 scholarship, and, above all, I was able to see new faces and meet new people. I would like to remind others that sometimes you just don’t get what you wanted, and you have to get up, dust yourself off and take what you have learned and translate it into trying again.”