EARLY – For Mikayla Mitchell and Trevor Covault, overcoming challenges just goes with the territory.

The two Goldthwaite High School students were honored Thursday as nominees for the Toyota Youth of Inspiration Award at Bruner Toyota.

The Youths of Inspiration Award recognizes young men and young ladies from area high schools who have overcome significant life circumstances and having the courage, discipline and stamina to fight past those obstacles to make impressive achievements in school.

"The purpose of these awards is to bring recognition to students achieving amazing things," said Greg Bruner, president of the Bruner Auto Group. "The counselors have done a great job of helping us identify young people who have overcome difficulty or adversity and become so successful.

"We are grateful to Ms. Stacy Jones, the Goldthwaite High School Counselor, and her team for helping bring Mikayla and Trevor to our attention.”

Mitchell says she has been involved in all that small town life has to offer. In addition to being an “A” student, she works as the secretary’s assistant at Goldthwaite Elementary School, and is both an athlete and a cheerleader.

But an active lifestyle hasn't come easily to Mitchell, who plans to attend cosmetology school after graduation.

While struggling with Type 1 Diabetes for several years, she has been hospitalized on multiple occasions due to complications. Last year, she discovered yet another health issue as she has Juvenile Dermatomyositis, a muscle condition that causes extreme pain, especially during physical activity. While many of the activities that she used to enjoy are now very painful, she remains positive and never uses the condition as an excuse to do less than her very best.

"I was raised to push through things," she said. "It is really mind over matter. I get through it with faith because God can get you through anything."

Throughout her school years, she has constantly sought more experiences to have and more people to help. And soon Mitchell will be taking another step by pursuing her post-secondary schooling in Dallas.

"I was raised in a small town and I am ready to see what the world has to offer," she said.

Covault spent much of his middle school and high school life making mature decisions about his future. At age 14, he called a meeting with his school counselor for advice on how to raise his class ranking, excel in more challenging classes, earn his way into the National Honor Society and improve his chances for college.

He sought employment at First United Methodist Church to help contribute to family expenses. Last year, he enlisted in the Army National Guard where he now serves as a wheel mechanic. He holds the rank of Private, Class E2.

"A lot of people in my family have served," he said. "And it will help with my education.

He plans to own and operate an automotive repair business following his college education. But not just any auto shop. Covault wants to a special kind of work.

"My main goal is to get into automotive restoration," he said.

Having achieved a 97.4 average, Covault plans to earn a degree in business at either Texas Tech or Sam Houston State University, which have both accepted him.

Like Mitchell, he has turned adversity into opportunity.

Through the Youths of Inspiration program, Bruner Toyota will recognize two students from area high schools each month during this school year. Each monthly honoree will receive a certificate in the showroom of Bruner Toyota.

Each student must be in good standing with his/her high school and be an exemplary citizen. Individual campus counselors recommend their school recipients of the Youths of Inspiration Award.

On May 22 at Howard Payne University, Bruner Toyota will host a dinner to recognize each of the 20 honorees from the participating campuses. At the event, Bruner Toyota will select one young man and one young woman, who will each receive a $500 scholarship. The school of each selected student will also receive a $500 scholarship donation from Bruner Toyota, for a total of $2,000 presented to individuals and schools.