You could say Centennial High School senior, Kimberly Jensen is one in a million, because when you think about how many students there are in California, being the one selected for a national award is a pretty big deal. With all her accolades, Kimberly is proud of herself, but still pretty shocked.
“I definitely screamed and came running down the hallway, because my dad was teaching from home,” Kimberly recalled. “I definitely interrupted his class."
That reaction comes after Kimberly discovered she’d be the recipient Of The National WWII Museum’s Billy Michal Student Leadership Award. Her parents, Dan and Patty Jensen are pretty proud too.
“I’ve never failed to be amazed by my kids,” her father, Dan Jensen said. “We’ve never pushed them. You always hope your children do well, but you never dream either one of them will be as successful as they’ve been.”
According to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, the award goes to a student with a “strong record of volunteerism," someone who “demonstrates school and community activism, and helps implement creative solutions to recognized problems.”
In addition to earning a 4.5 GPA during a pandemic, being co-president of three clubs at Centennial (The Society of Women Engineers, Campus Life and Remnant Bible Club), and a mentor to her alma mater, Endeavour Elementary School’s students on their History Day Projects and their drama department, Kimberly is working to solve an issue on a national level.
“You expect to go through high school and be like, 'okay! Let’s survive high school, let’s see what happens.' Everything’s gone better than I could have possibly imagined!” Kimberly said.
Kimberly has been interning for the Ghost Army Legacy project, which aims to preserve the legacy of a front-line deception unit during WWII, which she says was classified as top secret until 1996. One of her main tasks has been helping lobby Congress to pass a bill that would award the veterans of the Ghost Army a Congressional Gold Medal.
“I love making sure that we do not forget where we came from. That’s how we can keep moving forward in our life: by looking back. I've just fallen in love with the Military protecting the nation, and keeping that [history] alive. And that’s actually a part of what I want do: I want to become a doctor for the U.S. Air Force.”
The Jensen family said that while the award's ceremony normally takes place in New Orleans, the recipients will be honored virtually this year. But before they even get to that, they have a graduation to plan. Kimberly happens to be finishing high school first in her class.