MacDill Military Youth of the Year becomes first to win Florida title

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Adam R. Shanks
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Gregory Davis, a 16-year-old sophomore at Jesuit High School, was selected as the Florida State Military Youth of the Year, April 7, 2017 in Orlando, Florida.

Davis, who is the first-ever Military Youth of the Year from MacDill AFB to win the Florida title, travelled to Orlando to compete against other Military Youth of the Year contestants from nine military installations in the state.

 Davis explained that during the judging, each contestant gave a three-minute speech, followed by a 12 to 15 minute interview with a board of four people.

“The questions asked during the interview were mostly about my application,” said Davis. “They asked me about my volunteer work, my performance in school, as well as personal questions such as how I use social media.

“All the questions were their opportunity to get to know me.”

Later, the judges announced the two finalists for the title of Florida State Military Youth of the Year. To his surprise, Davis was one of the two selected.

“I was talking with another contestant when they announced the first finalist, and I thought, ‘There’s no way I’ll get picked,’” said Davis. “But moments later they announced the second finalist and I heard my name called and I couldn’t help but smile.”

Gregory’s mother, Barbara Davis, supported him the entire way, and cheered him on throughout the competition. As one of two finalists, Gregory was later announced as Florida’s winner.

“When his name was called, I was so proud of him,” said Barbara Davis. “I was ecstatic when he won the title for MacDill, but the entire state of Florida is a whole different story.”

Davis attributes his success to the numerous volunteer opportunities he has participated in. From volunteering at the MacDill Youth Center, to clubs at school and church, he doesn’t shy away from a chance to help other people.

“I try my best to give back to the different organizations and people who have supported me, either at church or at MacDill,” said Davis. “As a military child and my father constantly deploying, I personally understand the struggles other military youth can face through their school years.

“Every chance I get, I help mentor them, to show them that you can always make the best of anything, no matter the situation.”

His entrance into the competition was no easy task either, Davis had to complete an extensive packet of information to even be considered as a contestant.

The requirements included three letters of recommendation, performance reports in school as well as four 2,000 word essays about various subjects surrounding military youth.

“It was a lot of writing,” laughed Davis. “Writing 8,000 words took quite a long time, but apparently I did a decent job.”

Now, the local teen has a $5,000 scholarship, and is scheduled to make a trip to Atlanta in June, where he will compete with Military Youth of the Year finalists from eight other states in the Southwest region. The winner will receive an additional $10,000 scholarship which can be renewed for up to four years, totaling $40,000.

“It’s been unreal the amount of support we’ve received, especially from the Youth Center at MacDill,” said Barbara. “Despite having a full workload, the staff at the Youth Center drove to Orlando when they heard Gregory was a finalist, just to show their support.

“Everything they have done through our journey is incredible and I am extremely thankful.”