Kodiak student earns top youth congressional award
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Four-hundred hours of community service, 200 hours of personal development and physical fitness and five days of travel. Imagine that workload on top of being a top high school student. That’s what it took for Rafael Bitanga to earn the congressional gold medal in 2020.
Bitanga says he started working on the award his freshman year at Kodiak High School. He served as a state and national leader for his school’s chapter of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, which earned him his hours for volunteer service. He used his passion for photography as a means to pursue personal development. The travel requirement brought him to New York City which sparked his interest in attending the Ivy League school Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
“For me when I set goals, I don’t see it as a culmination to something in terms of the gold medal award I just see it as another stepping stone to something that I am wanting to do in the future. Right now I am actually developing a way to figure out how I can take my photography skill and allow students here at my university for all students to have headshots so I am trying to develop a way to further what I learned from my congressional award and to expand it to something bigger than what I was able to do for my self,” says Bitanga.
As a first-generation college attendee, Bitanga joins only 6 other Alaska youth in earning this award and he is the only gold medalist from Kodiak Island.
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