LAAFB youth wins AFSPC Youth of the Year for second year

  • Published
  • By David Porter
  • 61 MSS Services
Ariel Hawkins, daughter of Lt. Col. James Hawkins, SMC Inspector General, and Gail Hawkins, was recently selected as the 2007 Air Force Space Command's Youth of the Year for an unprecedented second year in a row. 

The 15-year-old high school sophomore was selected because of her academics, community involvement, service to the community, service to the club and family life. She submitted approximately nine essays concerning these subjects in her nomination package along with many achievement certificates she earned from school and other activities. Also included were letters of appreciation and numerous letters of recommendation from the base chaplains, the principal of her high school and her teachers, organization directors and other long-time acquaintances. 

She is a very active volunteer at various organizations such as the Fort MacArthur Youth Center, base chapel, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and other organizations.
Ariel calls the Youth Center, "a little home away from home where everybody knows your name." During the summer months, she spends hundreds of hours volunteering at Youth Center's functions such as Summer Camp, field trips and babysitting. She also assists the volleyball, basketball and softball coaches. 

"She begged us to let her volunteer," said Colonel Hawkins. "When we went on vacation last summer, she was most upset about missing her voluntary hours at the youth center." 

Being a military child, Ariel knows how difficult it is to be constantly on the move, going from school to school and having to adjust to new surroundings. She assists youths who have transferred to the base, helping them feel more comfortable in their new environment. 

"She's got a real gift with people," said Colonel Hawkins. "She's very personable and intuitive about people and quickly makes friends with everybody. She'd make a great teacher or a great counselor." 

As a matter of fact, Ariel is involved with the student counsel at the Port of Los Angeles High School where she attends and was just voted as the Student of the Month for February. Ariel takes time to talk to and counsel her friends when she sees them doing something they shouldn't be doing. 

She participated in the National Kids Day program and supported the Airman & Family Readiness Center by stuffing more than 100 "Stay Connected" kits for deployed families. When Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans, it was Ariel who called the Youth Center asking if they could do something to help the people there. As a result, the Youth Center sent out packages filled with personal items to the victims of Katrina. 

"It is a joy and blessing to have such a dedicated volunteer like Ariel in our program," said Patricia Brown, Youth Center director. "She has proven to be a superior role model in community service projects for the 4H Leadership Club." 

"She's almost like a little junior activist," said Colonel Hawkins. "She's probably going to be a politician someday because she's got the right stuff." 

Currently, Ariel hasn't decided what she's going to be but plans on attending college after high school. 

"I've wanted to go to college for as long as I can remember," wrote Ariel in one of the nomination essays. "Going to college will provide greater learning opportunities and a better understanding of the community, nation and the world." 

She would also like to travel although she's already traveled to such places as France, England, Germany and all over the United States. 

"She talks about traveling around the world and she hopes to make a difference in the world and people's lives," said her mother, Gail. "She's given a lot of time to community service and she really enjoys it. She's just a wonderful person and we're very proud of her." 

Youth Center Teen coordinator Tonji Davis notes that Ariel "consistently instills a sense of accomplishment and responsibility in the group, insuring their tasks are completed on time and to the best of their abilities." 

When presenting her first award last year, Col. Joseph Codispoti, then Los Angeles Air Force Base commander, said, "This is a tremendous honor; it is a tribute to this young lady who is so active at our base and in the local community and school. I am grateful to have her in a leadership role." 

Ariel has not been content to "rest on her laurels." She continues to demonstrate leadership skills and the fact that core values are alive and well in Air Force homes. 

(Additional information provided by SMC Public Affairs.)