GALION — Kristina Lee, daughter of Dr. Andrew Lee of Galion, is the 2020 Military Child of the Year for the National Guard. She wears the crown as Ohio’s Miss Teen Buckeye State, and she sported a different look when she campaigned for office at a SkillsUSA State Leadership Conference.
The 18-year-old senior at Lee Preparatory High School and Tri-Rivers Career Center in Marion, had two black eyes, caused by a basilar skull fracture received when sparring with pugil sticks in her school’s criminal justice lab. But Lee rolled with the look, referring to herself in her campaign speech as the raccoon in the room, en route to being elected as a regional officer.
It’s one example of how the student leader and honor student chooses perseverance in the face of adversity, including her brother’s death after a yearlong illness and overcoming PTSD after experiencing a violent crime in 2018.
At school, Kristina distinguishes herself in classwork and as a leader as she pursues dual tracks. She’s an honor student in academics at Lee Prep School, while at a career technical school, she excels in criminal justice and construction trades.
After high school, Kristina plans to continue on multiple tracks. She wants to serve an apprenticeship to become a heavy-equipment operator and join the Air National Guard to become a paramedic.
“I’ve always wanted to be a civil servant, but realize that it’s hard to live on a civil servant’s salary,” she said. “With the help of a construction job, I will be able to afford to pursue a military/EMT/paramedic career as well. Maybe further down the road, I would like to pursue political leadership, but I don’t want to do that until I have some real-life experience.”
Being a military child helped her develop a servant’s heart, she said.
“Military kids have the hearts and minds to serve others whether it be in their schools, communities, or even just their homes,” Kristina said. “This may be because they model after their military parents who have to both serve and sacrifice daily.”
Kristina amassed more than 500 volunteer hours in the past year, including organizing a Drug Free, Hire Me! rally that attracted more than 600 students for a daylong event, which she also emceed. She also planned and executed a Walk a Mile in Her Shoes fundraiser to benefit survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Kristina is the sixth of the eight children of Tammy and Col. Andrew Lee, a physician and a medical group commander in the Ohio Air National Guard. During her father’s deployments and training, Kristina helps her mom with her two younger brothers, including one with developmental delays, who is nonverbal.
She communicates with him using sign language, which she also uses in volunteer work with special-needs children at her church through a ministry called PB&J, Precious & Beloved by Jesus.
In her spare time, Kristina enjoys drawing and painting, reading, swimming, obstacle course 5Ks, and lawn work.
Her favorite quote, she said, was: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’ ” by Erma Bombeck.