This fall, Conner “CoCo” Clemens ’18 was among the first group of honorees at the inaugural National Gold Award Ceremony in the United States held in support of the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award USA. Founded in 1956 in the United Kingdom by Prince Philip, the international Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a highly regarded, self-development program geared for young people between the ages of 14 and 25.
Clemens was bestowed the Gold Award during a special ceremony in Washington, D.C., which was attended by Princess Anne, who was joined by British Ambassador Peter Westmacott. Held on Friday, Nov. 7 at the Ambassador’s Residence at the British Embassy, the event featured the presentation of Gold Awards to young people from throughout the United States.
“There was a huge number of people who signed up but only 11 people in America received the award,” Clemens says. “I am very excited about this opportunity and I am happy that I got the chance to affect the world in a positive way through my service to my immediate and extended community.”
Clemens says there were a number of objectives that had to be met in order to be considered for the Gold Award. Dedicated to achievement in community service, physical fitness, special skills and adventurous journey, the award aims to build self-esteem and promote character development within each participant. Last summer, Clemens performed volunteer work in Tanzania and Kenya, working on a water catchment system which provides water for families, installing solar panels on homes, and teaching English to school-aged children.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a non-competitive experience that cultivates and instills confidence and self-worth within every participant, according the program. Through its framework, participants enjoy an unparalleled experience that hones their talents and skills, and instills a crucial sense of belonging and achievement.
Currently operating in more than 140 countries across the globe, over 8 million young people have been motivated to undertake a variety of voluntary and challenging activities to receive a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
“We are delighted that Her Royal Highness presented this year’s Gold Awards,” said Josh Randle, the Duke of Edinburgh’s national executive director. “The Princess is a dedicated advocate for youth, and her presence is a prestigious honor to celebrate our inaugural National Gold Award Ceremony in the United States.”
Princess Anne is associated with more than 200 charities and organizations in an official capacity, to all of which she devotes a large part of her working life. She is the second child and only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II.