A Repeat Just as Sweet for Military Youth of the Year

by Troy Miller
U.S. Navy

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- "Be 100 percent yourself. Don’t try to be anyone else." Those were the words of advice that Janasia Underwood, then a junior at Chesapeake's Western Branch High School and the 2018 South East Regional Military Youth of the Year by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America promoted to her peers almost a year ago.

Her words stay true today as she offered the same advice to Dasia Bandy, the 2019 Virginia State Military Youth of the Year by the Boys & Girls Clubs winner.

"Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s (NNSY) youth center is proud to have back-to-back winners," said Chad Rickner, Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s MWR Director. "A feat like this has rarely been done, if ever, in the Military Youth of the Year competition."

For almost 75 years, the Military Youth of the Year program has recognized the country’s most inspiring teens and the journeys they have taken with their family. The emphasis on of leadership, service to others, academic excellence and a commitment to living a healthy lifestyle have made Military Youth of the Year one of America’s premier leadership and recognition program for teens.

The 16-year-old Bandy, a junior at Grassfield High School STEM Academy in Chesapeake, competed against other military teenagers across the Commonwealth of Virginia.

"Winning is a great opportunity for me," said Bandy. "I get to share and express who I am, what I’m passionate about, how I want to move forward to represent and advocate for other youth across the United States."

Not only was this a back to back win for NNSY’s youth center, but both girls attend high schools in the City of Chesapeake.

"Although many young people in our school division work diligently to perform well in the classroom, students who accept multiple challenges are very special individuals," said Dr. Jared A. Cotton, Superintendent of Chesapeake Public Schools. "As time passes, all of us will be reminded of their community service and their outstanding leadership abilities at their schools."

Bandy is no stranger to leadership positions. She is currently a delegate for the class of 2020 student government and is seeking the role of president for her senior year.

"Dasia is a born leader who leads by example," said Michael N. Perez, Grassfield High School’s principal. "Dasia is involved in every aspect of Grassfield High School, from academics to clubs to athletics to student leadership. She facilitated a student forum on cultural and diversity issues this year."

Bandy is also involved with DECA, (formerly Distributive Education Clubs of America) and National Honor Society. Lisa McGlothlin, an Advanced Placement Language and Composition instructor at Grassfield High School, said that Bandy has great respect for her peers. She is outgoing and gets along well with others. She added that her interactions with students, in and out of class, reveal her compassion and consideration for others.

Off the school grounds, Bandy is the Mid-Atlantic region teen vice president for Jack & Jill of America, Inc., a membership organization of mothers with children 2-19 years-old, dedicated to nurturing future African American leaders by strengthening children through leadership development, volunteer service, philanthropic giving and civic duty.

"I love helping people," said Bandy. "That’s why I want to be an orthopedic surgeon or a physical therapist. This is a great way for me to incorporate what I want to learn in college to help others."

Bandy has her eyes set on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She wants to major in biology and to blend some of her other academic passions like computer science, political science and business, but before then, she will compete for the Southeast Military Youth of the Year, where she will be going up against the state winners from North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

Regardless what the outcome would be for the future competitions such as these, she will continue to live by the same advice that she would give to her fellow peers.

"You can do anything you want to do. Follow your passion and don’t let anyone stop you.

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