Yokota teen receives Youth of the Year
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Jarred Garcia is a local teen with many talents - he can play the guitar, piano and drums. He holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, knows Jujitsu and practices fencing and archery.
He now has another impressive achievement to add to his long list of accomplishment.
Garcia was recognized as the 2012 Youth of the Year for Yokota and West Pacific Air Forces region by the Boys & Girls Club of America.
Youth of the Year is BGCA's premier recognition program for club members, promoting service, community and family, academic success, strong moral character, life goals and poise and public speaking ability, according to the official BGCA website.
Garcia, a home-schooled student, and the son of Master Sgt. Randy Garcia and his wife Jeannine Garcia, is modest when discussing the honor.
"I am not quite sure why I was nominated," Garcia said. "I believe there were three or four of us nominated and I am humble that I won the award."
While Garcia may be unsure what made him stand out among his peers, people around him knew he was the right person for the award.
"From the start we felt Jarred was a great candidate," said Nicole Dennis, Child and Youth Program Assistant at the Teen Center. "Throughout the year it became pretty clear."
Garcia said he spends his time often at the Yokota Teen Center. There, not only does he indulge himself in his passion for music by playing different instruments, he also participates in numerous volunteer opportunities, which he believes is a main reason why he was selected for the awards.
The list of volunteer work Garcia is involved in is quite extensive. Some of the events he can recall are: donating warm clothing to homeless shelter, raising money to an orphanage, creating an art project in memory of Sandy Hook victims and fundraising for Hurricane Sandy victims.
Besides volunteer work, he is active with community services.
"I am a certified archery instructor. I help teach kids here," Garcia said. "I got my certification through U.S. Archery when Khatuna Lorig, an Olympic medalist, visited here."
He is also the Keystone Club President.
"Keystone Club is the Yokota Teen Center's honor society," Garcia said. "It's all about service projects, and how to be a good member of society."
This young man, using his experience as a background, has his future planned out.
"I would like to be a doctor, but I also want to be an officer," Garcia said. "I plan on going to a university, preparing myself for medical school or joining the military to become a commissioned officer in the Air Force. I would love to be a full-bird colonel."
Garcia said he loves both Japan and Yokota and plans returning when he can. To help his dream come true, he plans to condense two years of school into one year and pursue an associate's degree in general studies.
"This way, I get my prerequisites out of the way," Garcia said. "I am currently taking College Level Examination Program too."
Garcia said that he is doing this not only because it helps his dream come true, but also to help his parents save money.
Dennis said she sees Garcia's future to be a bright one.
"Jarred is a leader at heart. He likes to make sure that people not only have a direction to go in, but knows the correct way. He's not one of those leaders that will allow you to follow one path; he is open to other ideas," Dennis said. "Throughout his time as the Keystone Club President, he's been strong and fostered creativity. I think Jarred's responsibility and independence will help him get far and achieve his dream."