Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) awarded 17-year-old Caroline White of Lakewood the Congressional Award Bronze Medal.

The Congressional Award provides a unique opportunity for young people to set and achieve personally challenging goals that build character and foster community service, personal development and citizenship.  All young people are equally able to earn the Congressional Award, because goals are set based on individual interest, need and ability.  A young person is not selected to receive the award; he or she earns it.

To earn her Congressional Award Bronze Medal, Caroline White set and achieved challenging goals in four areas: voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness and expedition/exploration. 

Caroline volunteered with the kindergarten class at Franklin Elementary School.  In the classroom, she assisted the teachers in their daily activities, learning that while teaching others, you often learn something about yourself.  Caroline also worked with the Civil Air Patrol cadets at McChord Air Force Base, teaching them discipline and the necessary attributes to being a successful cadet.   

Four days a week, Caroline taught children age 4-13 the basic skills of tae-kwan-do for her personal development requirement.  As an instructor she learned that she had to change her teaching style based on each student’s learning style.  Her supervisor noted that “her attention to detail and work ethic are unmatched by anyone else in her position.”  

In physical fitness, Caroline’s goal was to lower he mile running time to 6:10 and increase her pole vaulting height to 7’6”.  To achieve her goals, she attended track practice for two hours daily - repeatedly running distances and sprints and practicing her vaulting.

For her exploration/expedition, Caroline challenged herself with an overnight to Mount Rainier.  To prepare, she learned how to build a fire and how to properly pack a backpack.  After deciding on the appropriate gear, Caroline and her friends hiked for two days.  In the evening, she used her new fire-making skills to enable the group to eat dinner. 

After learning that she had earned the Bronze Medal, Caroline said, “I gained the chance to better myself as a person. I have learned how to feel like a part of my community and I will continue to do so in the future.”

“Congressional Award recipients like Caroline represent the best of America.  They are committed to bettering themselves and to giving back to their communities,” Congressman Adam Smith said.  “It is the making and fulfilling of that commitment that makes these young people so extraordinary.”

Currently there are five young people in Congressman Adam Smith’s district working on their Congressional Awards.

The Congressional Award is a public/private partnership.  The Award raises its own operating budget entirely through private-sector donations and receives no federal funding.  Congress established the Congressional Award in 1979 as a private-public partnership to recognize and reward initiative, achievement and service in young people.