(Clockwise, from top-left) Natalie Burt-Carrol, Hailea Caldwell, Hamsini Venkatramani and Kaelan Ross receive their gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award from Governor General David Johnston at a ceremony in Burnaby on June 2, 2017. (Photos courtesy of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, B.C. and Yukon division)

(Clockwise, from top-left) Natalie Burt-Carrol, Hailea Caldwell, Hamsini Venkatramani and Kaelan Ross receive their gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award from Governor General David Johnston at a ceremony in Burnaby on June 2, 2017. (Photos courtesy of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, B.C. and Yukon division)

Delta youths earn gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

The four youth were among 70 from across B.C. to receive the award

Four Delta youth have been presented with the gold level Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

At a ceremony in Burnaby earlier this month, Governor General David Johnston presented the prestigious award to 70 B.C. youth, including Delta’s own Natalie Burt-Carrol, Hailea Caldwell, Hamsini Venkatramani and Kaelan Ross.

To earn the gold award, the achievers had to work consistently over a minimum of one year in the four sections of the award program — service to community, development of a skill, physical recreation and an adventurous journey in nature. They must also complete a gold project requiring a minimum five-day immersive cultural experience.

“Youth who participate in The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award demonstrate a commitment to service, leadership, and self-discovery. They learn the intrinsic value of self-motivation by setting challenging goals and then achieving them,” said JA Pankiw-Petty, president of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, B.C. and Yukon division. “We are grateful to the Governor General for presenting the awards; His Excellency’s presence reinforces the tremendous achievement of these youth who, through hard work and perseverance, have become leaders and contributors in communities across our province.”

The award is presented in the form of a lapel pin and a certificate, and achievers earn two Grade 12 high school credits for completing their gold award in B.C.

Here’s what Delta’s latest gold-level Duke of Edinburgh’s Award acheivers had to say about their experiences with the program:

Natalie Burt-Carrol: “I recently completed my first year of my undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia, where I am planning on majoring in human geography. I have been involved with the Royal Conservatory of Music for piano from an early age, and that is where I have embraced my love for music. I believe that music has no boundaries and serves as an international language capable of connecting everyone together. Since I started this journey to achieve the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, I have embraced my passion for helping others through volunteer work with an international organization that I work with (Hugh O’Brien Youth), which inspires ambassadors grow leaders and teaches them not what to think, but how to think. It was through my volunteer work that I received a Presidential Service Award from former president Barack Obama.”

Hailea Caldwell: “The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award encouraged me to experience new skills and improve skills and activities that I was already a part of. One of my most significant memories from the award was my adventurous journeys: hiking through B.C.’s beautiful mountains and a week-long canoe trip in the pouring rain. These journeys threw experiences at me that I never dreamed I could have faced. I found that the journeys were something that I really loved doing, and I may not have figured that out as early on if it wasn’t for the award. I have also continued my passion for my skill of playing piano and now am studying music and psychology at Bishop’s University in Quebec. I am still involved in volunteering to give back to my community, pursuing outdoor adventures and growing as an individual.”

Kaelan Ross: “I learned of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award after I completed my Chief Scout Award. I’ve been in Scouts for over thirteen years and a Cub Scout leader for the past three years. I completed the bronze, silver and now gold awards. For my adventurous journeys, I canoed the Bowron Lakes, cycled the Kettle Valley Railway, and went spelunking. Thanks to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, I have become more confident and more able to persevere through adversity. Each journey provided challenges in teamwork and planning, from finding participants to finding appropriate caves. These challenges reinforced how much I like planning and organizing activities. In the residential project, I was a part of a group that built houses for families in Mexico. Through this experience I learned that, while poor, these people were rich in spirit. It also gave me a desire to continue to experience different cultures.”

Hamsini Venkatramani: “Since I started this journey to achieve the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, it has benefited my personal development especially in areas such as self-fulfillment, self-confidence and self-esteem. It has strengthened my communication skills, ability to work with others, ability to take direction and lead others, dedication and time management. I am able to manage my schedule in order to devote time for activities that benefit others. I volunteered during expeditions, provided mentorship to younger youth, and have taken on many challenging leadership roles which have benefited me. My volunteer experiences have helped me gain a perspective on life and realize the importance of community living. My goal as a person is to help others in the best possible way in order to become a compassionate young being. This program has given me a deep insight and courage to never give up on myself and strive for the best.”