Natalie Worthy, a 2021 graduate of Prairie High School and Clark College, received the Gold Congressional Award after working toward the honor for years.
Worthy obtained the award during a summit in Washington, D.C. between June 20 and June 22.
Worthy, who was born and raised in Clark County, currently attends the University of Puget Sound, where she is majoring in vocal performance. She hopes to become a professional opera singer after years of experience in musical theater and classical instrumental work.
The Gold Congressional Award is available to those between the ages of 13 ½ and 24 years old.
“It’s taken a long time. The program is at your own pace, … so for me, I first started setting those goals and trying to get the gold medal when I was around 14 and now I’m 20,” Worthy said. “For gold, it’s 400 hours required in voluntary community service and then 200 hours in physical fitness, 200 hours in personal development and then a seven day planned expedition or trip.”
To complete her voluntary community service hours, Worthy spent time volunteering for the Clark County Food Bank, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also spent a year working at the PeaceHealth Southwest Hospital in Vancouver and worked with the Clark County chapter for the National Alliance for Mental Health.
Worthy achieved her personal development goal by logging her singing practice hours every day. For her physical fitness goal, she has spent time in the gym and as a cheerleader at the University of Puget Sound.
To secure her expedition goal, Worthy planned a seven day trip to Barcelona, Spain with her parents in 2018. One of her favorite moments of the trip was a tour she planned for the La Sagrada Familia church, which she said is iconic and massive. Seeing the rainbow stained glass in person was a “breathtaking” experience, Worthy said.
During her three days in D.C., the Congressional Award winners went to panels and meetings with different individuals. To start off the trip, Worthy met her local U.S. Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez. Worthy’s favorite meeting occurred with Major General Charles Bolden, who was the 12th administrator for NASA, she said.
“We got to hear his thoughts on goal setting and the Congressional Award and just his time in NASA and it was really inspiring,” Worthy said.
Going forward, Worthy plans to continue her volunteerism, especially with youth volunteers.
“Despite completing my award, I want to encourage others to do the same as I did,” Worthy said. “I’ll keep continuing to spread that message through pageantry, so I work with the Miss America Organization and I’ll be competing for a local organization called Miss Pierce County in the fall, so I’ll continue to advocate for youth volunteerism through that going forward.”
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