The Copperas Cove Morning Exchange Club introduced Rachel Heintzel as Youth of the Year for the organization’s district area.

“I was really surprised,” said Heintzel, a Cove High School senior. “I wasn’t really expecting it. It’s really an honor.”

Heintzel previously was named the local club’s Youth of the Year. After winning district, she will compete for the national title and a $10,000 scholarship in July. Heintzel, a member of National Honor Society, is also a National Hispanic Recognition Scholar. She has volunteered for the senior citizen prom and Keep Copperas Cove Beautiful programs. Heintzel plans to study biology at the University of Texas-Dallas on her way to pursuing a medical degree.

“When you see youth like that, you know the world is in good hands,” said Exchange Club member Jim Rudd.

Heintzel read the essay she submitted to enter the Youth of the Year contest, in which she discussed how her views of a hero transitioned from cartoon characters to real people because of their simple acts of compassion to change the world.

“Heroes do not have to have some mighty gift to change the world,” Heintzel said. “Today’s youth are the doctors, lawyers and the next-door neighbors of tomorrow.”

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