Son of AFTAC first sergeant earns Youth of the Year honors

Xavier Chambers (left) talks to his dad, Senior Master Sgt. Braderick Adams, first sergeant for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., after being selected as the base’s Youth of the Year.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Xavier Chambers (left) talks to his dad, Senior Master Sgt. Braderick Adams, first sergeant for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., after being selected as the base’s Youth of the Year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Portrait of Xavier Chambers, Patrick AFB’s Youth of the Year.  (Courtesy photo)

Portrait of Xavier Chambers, Patrick AFB’s Youth of the Year. (Courtesy photo)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- “You know you’ve selected the right person when competitors in other categories sigh in relief knowing your candidate isn’t matched up against theirs!”

Those are the words of Darleena Jones, youth program coordinator for the Patrick AFB Youth Center here about the base’s 2016 Youth of the Year, Xavier Chambers, 16. Xavier is the son of Senior Master Sgt. Braderick Adams, first sergeant for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, and Rachel Adams, a Brevard County social worker.

Sponsored by the Boys & Girls Club of America, the Youth of the Year is selected on the basis of the candidate’s leadership experience, character, commitment to community service, academic achievement and long-term healthy lifestyle. It also recognizes the impact teens have on the lives of other young people.

Jones encouraged Xavier to apply for the award because she knew he possessed all the traits and characteristics required for submission.

“In the past year alone, Xavier has been mentoring and tutoring other Youth Center members in a variety of subjects,” said Jones. “He is a huge motivator, especially when it comes to fitness. He gets the other teens to participate in activities instead of sitting in a comfy chair with a controller in their hands. It made perfect sense for him to submit a package, and it really comes as no surprise that he was selected. He has got quite a bright future ahead of him.”

The application process requires candidates to write four essays: one about their club experience, another about their military youth experience, a third about their personal brand, and the last on their vision for America’s youth. They also undergo a personal interview by a panel of judges and are graded on their responses, poise and public speaking abilities.

Xavier’s military youth experience essay was especially noteworthy. He considers himself “fortunate” to be part of an Air Force family, despite the challenges it can pose.

“At some point, we have to relocate to different states and sometimes even to another country,” he wrote. “Changing locations means having to go to a different school and it’s hard because you miss your old teachers and friends. But for me, the most difficult part was my dad’s deployment to Iraq in 2004 when he was gone for almost a full year. It was just my mom and me and we didn’t have video chats at that time. She was filling two roles, and that was a challenge for all of us at times.”

He continued, “But being in an Air Force family is not always challenging. Moving around means you get to learn more about the world and you get to see news things and visit more places than the average kid would ever get to see.”

The Satellite High School junior made quite a mark on many of his teachers and advisors, an impressive feat for student at a new school.

“This is a young man who has a desire to do well,” said Olga Peraza, Satellite High’s world language department chairperson. “He uses his knowledge of language to lead his classmates to success and has done an outstanding job to achieve the respect and admiration of all the faculty here, as well as his coaches and peers.”

Detra McCarthy, Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officer, at Fort Gordon, Ga., has known Patrick’s Youth of the Year for more than six years through her work with Fort Gordon’s Children and Youth Service program, and has nothing but high praise for this year’s winner.

“Xavier is an amazing kid!” said Detra McCarthy. “He encompasses the characteristics associated with building lifelong healthy habits, and his influence with other kids is beyond measure. He leaves a positive and profound impact wherever he goes.”

In his “Personal Brand” essay, Xavier wrote about what he feels his most positive attributes are. “I believe I’m mindful of other’s feelings and situations,” he penned. “I try to find commonplace between people I meet. I act on empathy, I’m sensitive to others, and I want to teach others. My goal in life is to show what we can do together and how effective we can be when we set our minds toward a goal. That is what I feel my purpose is here on earth and I plan to follow that wholeheartedly.”

When his parents learned of his selection as Patrick’s Youth of the Year, they were ecstatic, but certainly not surprised.

“Xavier has always been a team player,” his father said, “not just on the athletic fields, but at school and especially at home. He takes on responsibility at every turn, and pretty much completes his tasks – even the toughest ones – with a smile on his face. I couldn’t be more proud of him. He is an exceptional young man and we expect great things from him as he continues on his journey of success!”