We continue our series on our 2015 Military Child of the Year recipients with getting to know Christopher-Raul Rodriguez, Military Child of the Year, U.S. Marine Corps.
Christopher-Raul certainly has overcome a lot. Early on in his life, his mom had to make a heartbreakingly tough choice as a result of alcoholism and abuse from his biological father that threatened the entire family: to take Christopher and his two siblings out of the home. This meant time spent in women’s and homeless shelters. Rather than let this define him, Christopher knew this would not be the end of his story. When reading his nomination, we could see that he was not going to be alone in his pursuit of a different path, but that it was Christopher’s courage, strength and resiliency that would drive him towards his goals.
Flash forward, and the results of his determination and drive are evident. A 3.25 GPA student in Advance Placement courses, the hard lessons he learned from his early years are the ones that he uses to lift others up. As varsity team captain in soccer and basketball, he is credited as the lynchpin for the teams’ successes, keeping their morale up and truly defining the word teammate. As one who understands the impact that a mentor and role model can have on a young person’s life, he returns the chances he was given to others, volunteering with a group that connects special needs children with others who are not, and volunteering with Special Olympics.
Though Christopher attributes his success in overcoming his early years to his mother and stepfather, Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jermaine Smith, his counselor is emphatic that it was Christopher himself that held fast to his promise to not take the path of least resistance offered by others who would see him compromise his standards. “I cannot emphasize enough that it was Chris who made the mature decisions, despite the chaos around him, to do the right thing. In an era of the “me” generation, Christopher is clearly more focused on those around him and the concept that he needs to be successful to honor his parents and to improve the world within which he lives.”
Chris’ future aspiration is to pursue a degree in Kinesiology and become an athletic trainer.
Christopher-Raul is the oldest child of Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jermaine and Griscelda Smith. He has one sister, Jazzlyn-Luz (14) and one brother Kilyn-Miguel (12). Griscelda is an on-base family childcare provider, and Jermaine is stationed at Camp Lejeune.
Catch up with our Military Child of the Year spotlight series:
“An unwavering role model in the face of adversity”-Military Child of the Year 2015, U.S.C.G., Caleb Parsons.
“Her humility, kindness, and candor inspire everyone she meets” –Military Child of the Year 2015, U.S.A.F., Sarah Hesterman.
“The focus and discipline to stay the course.”-Military Child of the Year 2015, U.S.N., Emily Kliewer.
Learn more about Military Child of the Year, visit www.militarychildoftheyear.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for information on how you can join us for the livestream of the Military Child of the Year Award gala in D.C. on April 16, 2015