Oaks Christian High School Senior Elizabeth Sams was presented the Congressional Youth Gold Medal by Congressman Ted Lieu, D-Los Angeles County, in recognition of her outstanding achievement in personal development in community service and the arts. Sams was recognized with other high achieving high school students nationwide in a Washington, D.C., ceremony in early June where honorees and their families were welcomed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
The Congressional Award is the U.S. Congress’ highest award for young Americans ages 14 to 23. Participants earn bronze, silver or gold congressional award certificates and medals.
Gold medalists must complete a rigorous personal development, voluntary public service, physical fitness and multi-day exploration criteria to earn the award. Award participants must meet or exceed the minimum requirement to be certified by the Congressional Youth Award Board.
"I am deeply honored to have earned the gold medal from Congress. It is my goal that more of my peers will connect with this program. It was the first step, for me, in truly understanding that while I may be young, my path to becoming a future leader starts now," said Sams.
She hopes to join the Congressional Youth Advisory Council and also enact a Congressional Youth Award Program at Oaks Christian High School to motivate other students who serve their communities to take their volunteerism to another level.
Sams focused on her passion and professional aspiration for the arts to satisfy and exceed the requirements for the personal development category, completing 1,100 hours of dramatic and musical theater work over the past three years under the guidance of OCS Theatre Director Rosalind Allen-Enciso.
Additionally, her voluntary public service included over 420 hours working for and raising money for Children’s Miracle Network and as a Junior Ambassador for Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, while simultaneously fulfilling her community service as part of the Miss California/America Outstanding Teen Program. Her work serving and speaking out about veteran awareness and civil liberties culminated with several live performances and web video of her original song, “Dear Veteran,” to honor those who serve.
In August, Sams will represent the United States as a delegate at the United Nations 2016 Summer Youth Assembly in New York City where youth representatives worldwide will discuss sustainable development leadership.
Photo: Elizabeth Sams is presented U.S. Congressional Gold Medal by Congressman Ted Lieu, D-Los Angeles County. Photo courtesy of U.S. Congress.