The 2022 Youth Excellence and Achievement Awards (otherwise known as the YEA! Awards) were given to six high school and middle school students on June 15 at the beginning of a Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners meeting. Locally, several high school students were recognized for their achievements.
The YEA! Awards have several categories. These include leadership — demonstrating a positive impact on others in an ongoing endeavor, such as sports, academics or the arts; volunteer or community service — allocating discretionary time to help others or completing a project that improves the community; and success despite difficult odds — overcoming personal difficulty to attain success and make a positive impact on others.
Ashton Kitchiner from Newsome High School was awarded the YEA! Award for Leadership. Kitchiner is the son of South African immigrants. He has given 273 hours in community service, officiates elementary and middle school students in lacrosse, runs a successful online enterprise and finished with a weighted GPA of 7.77.
Kitchiner, who will attend University of Florida, said, “Thank you to the county commissioners for this award. I also thank Miss Howard of You Matter To Me for nominating me.”
Emily Moore-Shrieves from Bloomingdale High School was awarded the YEA! Award for Volunteer or Community Service. Moore-Shrieves was valedictorian and senior class president. She will attend Harvard in the fall and pursue a degree in political science with a minor in international relations in economics. She is a member and leader of several clubs and gave 330 hours of community service.
Moore-Shrieves said, “It is an honor to receive this award when there are so many students who deserve it as well.”
Kevin Ibarias Nanez from Sumner High School was awarded the YEA! Award for Success Despite Difficult Odds. Nanez emigrated from Mexico when he was in eighth grade. He did not speak English, but by the end of ninth grade he exited the English as a Second Language program and began taking AP (advanced placement) classes. He graduated with a GPA of 4.0.
County Commissioner Harry Cohen said of Nanez, who could not attend, “His language skills transcended barriers. He is a symbol of achieving while having to learn a new language.”
For more information on the YEA! Awards, please visit www.hcflgov.net/yea.