Pine Island Legion Auxiliary sponsors students for Girls State
Four ambitious young ladies were recently presented a rare opportunity to learn the ins and outs of Florida state government thanks to the Pine Island American Legion Auxiliary. Attending Girls State recently held in Tallahassee were Lynnette Anderson, Veronica Valencia, Karissa Charles and Monroe “Reilly” Mize.
“It is such a blessing for me to be among those who get to interview and then select the young ladies we send to Girls State,” said auxiliary member Sonny Koutsoutis. “The girls are all so very talented and intelligent and it is a wonderful honor to get to know them all.”
In addition to attending Girls State, Anderson also was one of two high school juniors from the state to attend Girls National in Washington, D.C.
“I made a lot of new friends at both Girls State and Girls National. It was an experience I will never forget and I would encourage all high school juniors to apply,” said Anderson. “Among the highlights of the trip to Washington was the chance to meet President Obama. I couldn’t believe how tall he is and what a powerful speaker he was.”
Anderson currently attends Cape Coral High School and is on the board of directors of the Rotarian High School Club, a member of Interact, an officer in the JROTC and rows for the Cape Coral Rowing Club. She also has contributed more than 100 hours of service to community organizations including the United Way and the Rotary Club.
While at Girls National, Anderson ran for the office of vice president but was defeated, instead she served as the chief of staff of the United States Army which was appropriate for the particular young woman.
“While I attend college, I also plan to begin a career in the military and it is my hope one day to be a member of the JAG Corp where I would be a military attorney,” Anderson said. “After leaving the military my plans include continuing on as an attorney and perhaps seeking a political office.”
Both of Anderson’s parents served in the Gulf War in the U.S. military.
While at Girls State, Valencia was in charge of the Department of Health and after graduation, she is planning to attend Harvard Medical School to pursue a career as an oncologist or in the area of pediatrics.
“This was a great way to learn just how our government works. I am very thankful to the auxiliary for selecting me to attend,” said Valencia. “I had a wonderful time, made many new friends and have some really great memories.”
Valencia attends Mariner High School and is a member of Volunteens, National Honor Society, the Math Team, Fashion Club, Kay Club, the Environ-mental Club, where she also is the founder and president, and the Cape Coral Chamber of Com-merce Junior Leadership program and Ecclesia Youth Group.
Charles also attends Mariner High and plans to attend New York University to pursue a career in public health.
She is a participant in FBLA and secretary of the Environ-mental Club and also is the scrapbook editor for her school’s Key Club.
Away from school, she volunteers for her church and helps with a daycare service at her mother’s workplace.
While at Girls State, Charles served in the House of Represen-tatives.
Another young woman with an interest in the military is Monroe “Reilly” Mize. A Cape High student, she is a JROTC staff officer and an S-1, on the Drill Team, and a member of the color guard as well as a member of Key Club.
Away from school Mize enjoys playing soccer, playing the guitar and writing. After high school she plans to attend the Citadel to major in language. Her goal is to one day be a Military Intelligence officer in the U.S. Army.
Each year, the Pine Island American Legion Auxiliary sends four deserving female 11th grade students to Girls State and, according to Rubye Woodhead, this is the first time one of their girls were chosen to attend Girls National.
“This year, as in years past, we just love these girls who are selected to participate in the program,” said Woodhead. “We were especially pleased when one of the gals was chosen to attend National. We feel very honored to have been able to provide this opportunity for so many young people.”
Woodhead also said that because of the auxiliary’s commitment to young women, each year they are recognized by the American Legion district officials for their participation in Girls State.