HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. – More than 30 Suffolk County teenagers earned medals of honor at the Legislature’s 2019 Distinguished Youth Award ceremony, marking the second year of the program aimed at engaging local youth.
For the 31 medal recipients, the July 17 ceremony at the William H. Rogers Legislature Building in Hauppauge celebrated their completion of the yearlong Distinguished Youth Award program, through which youth ages 13 to 18 work with local officials and mentors, connect with their communities, and set and work toward goals for their own personal development.
“It is a pleasure to recognize these young people for their achievements, initiative and service, and to see what incredible work they have done over nearly a year’s time,” said Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory, who created the program in 2017 as part of his ongoing efforts to engage and retain Suffolk County’s next generation. “When I created this program, I wanted to encourage young people to learn about Suffolk County, grow the ties they have to this area, and embrace personal development. I hope this program has taught them how to rise up and meet their goals, a skill they can carry with them throughout their life.”
New York State Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre gave the keynote address, encouraging the teenagers to stay engaged in their communities and issues about which they are passionate.
“You are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but also the leaders of today,” she told the participants, pointing to examples of how teenagers are participating in important policy conversations of national importance.
The Distinguished Youth Award program invites teenagers to set and work toward goals in at least two of four areas: Volunteer Service, which requires volunteering 200 hours to benefit members of the community; Personal Development, which requires assessing one’s own skills and spending 100 hours toward personal improvement; Exploration, which requires visiting 15 Suffolk County parks; and Physical Fitness, designed to increase participants’ level of physical activity through 100 hours of promoting physical and mental well-being. Participants work closely with local elected officials and mentors to lay out goals for each category as well as a plan to accomplish them.
Participants are awarded a medal based on the number of categories they complete. A bronze medal is awarded to participants who complete two of the four listed program areas, while a silver medal is awarded to individuals who complete three of the four areas. Participants who successfully complete all four areas are awarded the highest level of achievement, a gold medal. This year, 21 participants took home a gold medal, seven earned a silver medal, and three achieved a bronze medal.
Registration for the 2019-2020 Distinguished Youth Award class is open through September 30. Applications and an information packet are available online at the Suffolk County Legislature website at https://www.scnylegislature.us/896/Distinguished-Youth-Award. The medal presentation ceremony will be held toward the end of the 2020 summer.
For additional information, please contact Program Coordinator Jerome Bost at 631-853-6355 or via email at DistinguishedYouthAward@suffolkcountyny.gov.
List of 2019 Distinguished Youth Award Recipients:
Gold Medal Award
Armany Alfaro, of Huntington
Nicolas Allain, of Huntington
Ashley Beck, of North Babylon
Emma Cervone, of Southampton
Sindy Alvarez Garay, of Huntington Station
Ethan Halle, of Huntington
Oscar Armando Hernandez, of Huntington
Erich Max Jenne, of Shirley
Rina Gabriella Jenne, of Shirley
Priya Katwala, of Huntington
Michael Keschner, of Lloyd Harbor
Ava Lamboy, of Farmingdale
Melody Luo, of Commack
Katherine Miata, of Huntington
Benjamin Nichols, of Smithtown
Oyinkansola “Oyin” Olukoya, of North Babylon
Joanna Reichle, of Farmingdale
Ava Serure, of Dix Hills
Sean Sulton, of Smithtown
Daniel Thompson, of Deer Park
Max Wenzel, of Deer Park
Silver Medal Award
Alyssa Katwala, of Huntington Station
Jacob Lamboy, of Farmingdale
Haily Leon, of Lindenhurst
Riley Meckley, of Port Jefferson
Zachary Seltzer, of Dix Hills
Gianna Tantillo, of Melville
Emily Sullivan, of Dix Hills
Bronze Medal Award
Pamela Carey, of South Huntington
Samantha Carey, of South Huntington
Julia Johnson, of Dix Hills