By Denise Nelson Prieto, Special to the Fort Bliss Bugle:
(El Paso, Texas, Feb. 1, 2018)
Discipline, courage, accountability – these are just a few of the life skills service in the military can instill in a person. These skills are not just reserved for those who serve, however. Operation Homefront’s Military Child of the Year program annually chooses children aged 13 through 18 from each branch of service who embody those skills. This year a Chapin High School senior, Bryce Kim, is a semi-finalist in the program.
“When I found out I was chosen, I felt excited and blessed,” Bryce said. “I’ve known a lot of great military kids my entire life and being chosen is a great honor. It’s helped me reflect back on the things they’ve taught me that have helped me along my journey.”
The organization chooses children based on their achievements in the areas of academics, leadership, volunteerism and extracurricular activities – all while facing the challenges of military life.
Constant moves, parental deployments, new schools and making new friends are among the obstacles many military children face, and Bryce and his family are no exception. The Kims have lived in five states in the last five years alone. Bryce has attended three high schools.
For him, these obstacles were learning opportunities he capitalized on to increase his adaptability and resiliency, skills he said he will carry with him through every phase of his life.
However, the one constant Bryce and his family embrace is their faith.
“Our faith in God has helped us make all of these transitions,” said Bryce’s father, Chaplain (Maj.) Samuel Kim, deputy division chaplain, 1st Armored Division. “No matter how short it is, we always make the time to pray together as a family.”
Bryce said his parents have also instilled the value of giving his 100 percent in all his endeavors. In the midst of all his transitions, he continues to excel in multiple areas of his life.
Kim said he and his wife try to embody the values they teach their children.
“How do we really help our kids? We show them that faith, serving others and hard work are the most important things,” he said. “Those things help us in our parenting and help us as individuals.”
Bryce is at the top of his senior class, captain of the cross-country team and a member of several academic clubs. On top of that, he has completed more than 300 hours of community service, including volunteering at the El Paso Food Bank, the El Paso Zoo and food pantries in the city. He has also contributed more than 150 hours running the soundboard at his church.
Despite his outstanding achievements, Bryce is a humble kid. He takes his selection in the program as a point of honor, rather than one of pride. He said he embraces the opportunity to highlight the values many of his peers and teachers have taught him, and that are reflective of the core principles the Army instills in its service members.
Not only did Harvard University grant him admission, but a four-year scholarship as well. He will be in the Army Reserve Officers’ Training program there.
Bryce acknowledged the honor in being in the Military Child of the Year program; however, he said he tries to incorporate his values into his daily life.
“Giving 100 percent is very important,” he said. “I’m always trying to fulfill the gifts I’ve been blessed with.”
The organization will chose finalists next month. The winner will go to an awards ceremony in April in Washington, D.C.