Utah teen named Air Force’s ‘Military Child of the Year’

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LAYTON, Utah - Northridge High School Senior Jamal Braxton is a wanted man, and he's smiling about it.

"It's definitely bittersweet," Braxton said.

Braxton has narrowed his college selection to Cornell, Trinity College, and the U.S. Air Force Academy, though many other suitors came calling.

But Thursday night, Braxton paid a visit to Washington D.C. where he was honored as the Military Child of the Year. The award is handed out by Operation Homefront, an organization which "builds strong, stable, and secure military families," according to the organization's webpage.

Braxton was one of seven teens picked for the award based on a combination of both his diverse background and his incredible public service record. Born in Germany, Braxton's father is a retired Master Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force. But he got stationed in Florida when Braxton was only two, then they moved again a few years later to Japan; then four years later back to Germany, before eventually moving here to Utah.

"It's exciting to see different places and explore," Braxton said. "But it's hard to make friends and then have to say goodbye."

Instead of using the constant change of scenery as an excuse, Braxton fixed his concentration of helping in community service. He participated in Boy Scouts of America, took on leadership roles within certain youth military groups, and volunteered for the Red Cross of Utah.

“He’s just an exceptional example of youth volunteerism in the Red Cross," Rich Woodruff, spokesman for Red Cross Utah said. "He’s involved in our leadership program every June. He's on the board up in Ogden. I mean, he’s got quite the resume and it’s still growing.”

Not to mention, Braxton is a three-sport varsity high school athlete in cross country, track and swimming. He's doe all of this while maintaining an unweighted 3.94 G.P.A. and juggling four Advanced Placement classes.

"Looking at his biography, I wondered how he made time for it all," joked one of the presenters at the National Award presentation in Washington D.C. Thursday.