Outstanding Officer of the Year 2013: Cyrus Vakili-Rad

The Outstanding Officer of the Year Award is presented to the Venturer who, in the view of the advisors, has most demonstrated leadership, service and spirit while serving as a Venturing officer.

Now normally this is a tough choice to make.  We often have two presidents during the school year.  Our crew has a legacy of a deep leadership bench.

In short, competition for this award is fierce.   Please help me congratulate this year’s winner,  Cyrus Vakili Rad.

Cyrus has been a regular up here during awards time.

Last year he received his second Jenny Kukucka Memorial Public Service Award, after not missing any of our community service work then.   He has received the Kodiak medal and will help teach the course this summer.  He has been inducted into the Corps of Discovery and was honored as a named crew member last year.

He has served three terms as a vice president and is in his second term as president.

Earlier this year he received the Venturing Leadership Award, a national honor that he was nominated for before he was elected president.

I am sure he wants me to mention his cooking prowess, although his memory differs from mine.  He believes the judges earlier this year awarded him the best cook award.  I think they did single out his work but maybe not in the way he remembers it.

I could spend the rest of the evening talking about his attitude and how special it is.  He has been a spectacular role model for this crew, making service and outings fun and constantly setting the example.  Even his announcements are fun to listen to, whether in his animated style or with one of his many accents.

Where there has been conflict, he has acted as peacemaker.  When discipline has been needed, he’s laid down the law and the crew has happily followed him wherever he leads because of his bigger-than-life personality.

But what earned him this award tonight is the fact that he chose to continue with his service to this crew when he didn’t have to.

Cyrus completed his freshman year at USC this year and while that may not mean much to those of you in high school, it’s a really big and challenging year for those in college.  It’s a new life with a more challenging academic load, a new way of doing things and a campus full of distractions, from fun clubs to join to sports, new friends and a myriad of things to do.

So when a college student makes a commitment not just to participate in our activities but to become a leader – or in his case to resume leadership – that’s a very big deal.

But Cyrus took it a step further.  He served not only as a vice president but ran for president in January.  He had been president before.  He knew the tremendous workload and responsibility.  And he didn’t need another term to receive some honor or pad his resume.  But he did it anyway.

And it was a shot in the arm for the crew, which was largely young and still learning leadership skills.  Cyrus’ decision to serve as president not only gave the crew more experienced leadership,  it also gave the younger officers a chance to be mentored by one of the best.

He will be concentrating more on his studies this fall so we won’t see him around as much.  But his service to this crew has been exemplary and his leadership has more than earned him the honor tonight of being named our Officer of the Year.




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