Study Hard, Win Big: Scottsdale Military Teen Wins $2,000 Exchange Grand Prize for Academic Achievement at Luke AFB

Photo courtesy of Luke Air Force Base Public Affairs.

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE – Mary Rita Kostas, 13, has had a busy summer—from lifeguard camp to space camp to winning the grand prize in the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s You Made the Grade sweepstakes.

Col. Robert Sylvester, 56th Mission Support Group commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Luis Reyes, Exchange senior enlisted advisor, presented Mary with her prize—a $2,000 Exchange gift card—in a ceremony July 25 at the Luke Air Force Base Exchange.

“Mary is a dedicated student, and the Exchange is honored to reward her academic success,” Reyes said. “Her enthusiasm for education and strength of character make her a role model to military children everywhere.”

First- through 12th-graders who maintain a B average or higher can enter the sweepstakes for a chance at a $2,000, $1,500 or $500 Exchange gift card. Mary was randomly selected from more than 1,000 entries.

Mary, an eighth-grader at Veritas Preparatory Academy in Phoenix, is the only child of two retired Warfighters. Gus is a retired Marine colonel with 28 years of service who deployed during Desert Storm, as well as several times to Afghanistan and Iraq. Jackie Kostas is a retired Army lieutenant colonel with 21 years of service who also deployed to Iraq.

Mary says it’s important for military kids to support their parents during deployments.

“Military service can be tough for families,” Mary said. “I was sad while my dad was deployed, but talking to him on the phone made me feel better.”

School is about more than getting good grades for Mary—she is passionate about science and history.

“I think it’s important to learn where we as Americans come from,” Mary said.

She plans to use her prize money to buy school supplies and clothes for the upcoming school year. But she also has her eye on something special.

“I’d like to possibly get a new bike,” Mary said. “We’ll see.”

Facebook-friendly version: Mary Kostas was presented with the grand prize in the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s You Made the Grade sweepstakes by Col. Robert Sylvester, 56th Mission Support Group commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Luis Reyes, Exchange senior enlisted advisor, in a ceremony July 25 at the Luke Air Force Base Exchange.

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Since 1895, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (Exchange) has gone where Soldiers, Airmen and their families go to improve the quality of their lives by providing valued goods and services at exclusive military pricing. The Exchange is the 62nd-largest retailer in the United States. Its earnings provided $2.3 billion in dividends to support military morale, welfare and recreation programs over the last 10 years. The Exchange is a non-appropriated fund entity of the Department of Defense and is directed by a Board of Directors. The Exchange is a 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemorative Partner, planning and conducting events and activities that recognize the service, valor and sacrifice of Vietnam Veterans and their families in conjunction with the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. To find out more about the Exchange history and mission or to view recent press releases please visit our website at http://www.shopmyexchange.com or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ExchangePAO.

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Media Notes:

For more information or to schedule an interview with an Exchange representative please contact Alexandra Pirkle, 214-312-2143 or pirkleac@aafes.com.

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Twitter:  https://twitter.com/shopmyexchange

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