One of the most popular National Exchange Club youth projects, the Youth of the Year Award, recognizes hard-working high school students who attain high levels of scholastic achievement, community involvement and leadership.

The Copperas Cove Exchange Club selected Carleigh Ross as its Youth of the Year recipient.

Ross, who is the daughter of Sgt. James and Amanda Sawyer assigned to the 289th Combat Support Company, 553 Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, is in the top 10 percent of her class, has a 4.02 GPA and is ranked 36 out of 475 graduates.

She has accumulated more than 1,500 hours of community service work during her high school career alone.

“Leadership is a skill I’ve developed and continue to improve within my school with a positive influence and through organizations such as student council, class officers, and cheerleading,” Ross said. “I’ve also made sure to volunteer with my church, Holy Family, for events such as the fall festival and pancake breakfast.”

This Exchange Club program not only rewards outstanding young people, but also provides other youngsters with an incentive to strive for equally high levels of achievement. Ross now advances to district competition and ultimately will have an opportunity to vie for the prestigious National Youth of the Year Award, if she wins at the state level.

Ross is the reigning Teen Miss Copperas Cove Five Hills with her platform of service being cancer fundraising and awareness.

She was the team captain for the Copperas Cove American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life for the third year and is president of the city’s Youth Advisory Council.

Ross is ranked in the top 10 percent of her class at Copperas Cove High School.

She will attend the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor as one of only 12 students to receive the UMHB Loyalty Fund Leadership scholarship, awarded at a rate of $2,500 per semester for eight consecutive fall and spring semesters.

A three-time All-American high school cheerleader, Ross was also selected to cheer on both UMHB’s competitive and sideline cheer squads, qualifying her for an additional college scholarship.

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