Randall Middle School student Jessica Martinez, 15, received the Youth Excellence and Achievement Award (YEA!) for Success Despite Difficult Odds last year.

The Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) is ready to recognize local students for their positive contributions through the Youth Excellence and Achievement (YEA!) Awards. 

Created in 2010, the YEA! Awards recipients are honored for showing initiative, innovation and a commitment to themselves and others, while pursuing excellence in a leadership capacity demonstrated in academics, community service, athletics, performing arts, conservation or other areas.

To ensure that a student is once again recognized this year, the BOCC is accepting nominations until Friday, February 3, which may be submitted for both middle and high school students. 

In explaining the three main categories, Hillsborough County spokesperson Carol Michel said that in the area of leadership, students demonstrate a positive impact on others in an ongoing endeavor, such as sports, academics and the arts, just to name a few.

As for the Success Despite Difficult Odds, a student demonstrates the ability to overcome tremendous personal difficulties to attain success and a positive impact on others.

The third area, Volunteer or Community Service, speaks for itself as a student allocates discretionary time to helping others or completing a project that has added to the betterment of the community.

Last year’s Success Despite Difficult Odds YEA! Award winner was Randall Middle School student Jessica Martinez, who despite many surgeries, hearing loss and other challenges, proved herself to be  outgoing, friendly, dedicated to her schoolwork, organized and refused to give up in the face of adversity.

Other winners included Stewart Middle School student Laura Osorio,  Freedom High student Liat Sanz (Leadership), Leon King Senior High School student Benjamin Carpenter (Success Despite Difficult Odds), Mann Middle School student Kelsey Bone and Freedom High School student Elisa Berson (Volunteer or Community Service).

The YEA! Awards will be presented at a Board of County Commissioners meeting in March.

The YEA! Awards nomination form can be completed and submitted online or submitted to the county Communications Department, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., 1st Floor, Tampa, FL 33602 or by fax to 276-8695. 

For information on the awards, visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org/bocc/about/awards.cfm or call 272-5314.

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