A 17-year-old Lejeune High School senior has been chosen as the national U.S. Navy recipient of the 2016 Military Child of the Year Award.
Jeffrey Burds is the son of Debra Rae Burds and Navy Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Joseph Burds.
Jeffrey and his school counselor, Todd Kirby, have a close relationship, Jeffrey said, and Kirby, who has entered students for the award in the past, nominated Jeffrey for 2016.
“I think he thought I’d be the perfect candidate for it,” Jeffrey said.
As the finalists for 2016 dwindled and Jeffrey stayed in the running, he was shocked.
“It’s crazy. I honestly had no idea (I would win),” Jeffrey said.
Thursday, Jeffrey will join the five other recipients, all representing a different branch of the military, for a dinner and award ceremony in Arlington, Virginia. Jeffrey will be representing the Navy.
The Military Child of the Year Award is presented to “a senior student who is a team leader, shows exceptional character, and is a leader in the classroom,” according to the Military Child of the Year website.
With a 3.94 GPA, Jeffrey still found plenty of time for community service between eight military changes of stations and 66 months of his father being deployed, according to the site.
Jeffrey has an extensive list of service highlights, including being involved with Students Against Destructive Decisions, the Special Olympics, the National Downs Syndrome Buddy Walk and the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine as well as being a JROTC executive officer.
The 17-year-old has received numerous awards and recognition for his work, including the 8th Marine Regiment Workhorse Award, MVP in track, Defensive MVP in football and more than 20 ribbons for JROTC.
Jeffrey said he’s motivated to do so much because he just wants to be involved in everything that he can, and he gets to meet “a lot of great people.”
For being chosen as the 2016 winner, Jeffrey will receive $10,000 and a laptop. He plans to put the $10,000 toward college and currently has plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin where they have a Navy ROTC program he’s considering.
Jeffrey’s favorite quote is “You can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets,” by Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was in a video — one of many success and leadership videos and quotes that Jeffrey’s brother sent to him as encouragement — and it just stuck, he said.
“It’s very relevant,” Jeffrey said. “You can’t really do anything, you’re not going to be anything, unless you go out and do it.”
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