Kylah Robinson, Fort Rucker’s Military State Youth of the Year nominee, sits with a group of children that she helps watch while she volunteers at the youth center May 15. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)
Published: May 22, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 22, 2014) -- There is no age limit when it comes to going above the best, and one Fort Rucker youth proved that through her volunteer efforts.
Kylah Robinson, a 15-year old Army Family member, was nominated to represent Fort Rucker for the Military State Youth of the Year Award held in Birmingham April 25.
Robinson made the trek up to Birmingham accompanied by Felisa Matthews, parental assistant at the Fort Rucker Youth Center, and although she didn’t take home the title, she said it was a fun experience she won’t soon forget.
“I really enjoyed meeting new people,” she said. “I learned that I could be better prepared when going into a competition like this and I need to be more confident in myself in these situations.”
The morning of the competition started off with interviews, something that Robinson said she was nervous about because it wasn’t something she was used to. It was a new experience for her, and although she said she’s not normally nervous when it comes to talking to people, in a competitive setting things change.
“I’m not normally a nervous person, but when you’re put on the spot like that it makes it a lot harder, so I did what I could and answered the questions as best I could,” she said. “I don’t do well when I speak in front of people, but this helped me get stronger in that regard.”
There were two parts to the competition: State Youth of the Year and Military Youth of the Year, and Robinson went up against one other youth in her category. Although she knew she was in a competitive setting, that didn’t stop her from becoming friends with the competition.
“I had an inkling that (the other girl) would win because I could see how she had everything prepared and planned out, and I had prepared, too, but after seeing how the competition was, I knew I would have put way more into it, so it was a good learning experience for me,” said Robinson.
One of the most lasting impressions that Robinson said she had from the experience was getting to meet the other youth who took part in the competition. She said that it felt less like they were competing against each other, and more like they were learning from one another.
“I really enjoy meeting people and becoming friends with them because that’s something I like to do – build friendships,” she said. “I became friends with some of the people I met, and it’s a learning experience because I’m able to learn how that person made it, what they did and how they prepared.”
Although being nominated to represent the installation in the competition was an honor for Robinson, she said it’s not something that she was actively seeking. She was nominated for her volunteering efforts around the installation, and mostly at the youth center.
“I like being a part of the youth center because I just love all the kids here and I love helping out the center,” she said. “Being an only child, volunteering here makes me feel like I’m an older sister to the younger children and a younger sister to the older ones.”
During her time at the youth center, Robinson watches over children and provides help to the parental assistants, and described the dynamic at the youth center like that of a Family.
“When you come here, people here grow friendships and relationships that are very close,” she said. “All of these people are my Family. We have so many memorable moments here and those are the things that make us bond together.”
In addition to volunteering at the youth center, Robinson has also helped out during many events across the installation, including Oktoberfest, where she worked as a parking attendant; Easter, where she helped with the egg hunt; and Christmas, where she was one of Santa’s elves.
Robinson said volunteering is something that she has found she loves to do, and admits that working, staying busy and helping to make a difference brings her happiness.
“Volunteering gives me something to do and I just like helping out,” she said. “Knowing that I’ve helped somebody really just gives me joy. When I was younger, I would even volunteer to do the dishes at home because I thought that was fun, but not anymore.”
Robinson wants to go to college to become a physical therapist after she completes high school, and she believes that volunteering can give her the leadership skills needed to follow through with her plans in life.
“My parents have always pushed me to be a leader, not a follower … and one of the biggest lessons they tried to teach me was to follow through,” she said “Volunteering helps me with that and makes me feel like I’m not only doing things for other people, but doing something for myself. I’m learning how to follow through and that’s something that will help me become a leader.”
This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/126602/
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