Celebrating 15 Years of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship: Graduate Chris Yother dreams to protect Americans

By GEOFF FOX 

step-up-15-logo_final-2Chris Yother could have slipped through the cracks.

A Merritt Island resident, he was one of nine children – and one of a set of quadruplets – born to Kate Brown and Michael Yother.

Unfortunately, Yother’s parents eventually divorced and money was tight. He had always been a conscientious student, but as high school approached, his mother decided she wanted the quadruplets educated at Brevard Private Academy (BPA), a local private school.

The Yothers applied for Florida Tax Credit Scholarships through Step Up For Students, and each of the quadruplets – Chris, Eric, Josh and Allison – were accepted.

At BPA, Chris Yother took dual-enrollment classes through Brevard Community College, now Eastern Florida State College,  and often tutored other students. By the time he graduated from high school in 2013, he had also earned an associate’s degree. chris-yother-grad

Now a 21-year-old senior at the University of Central Florida majoring in international relations, he still wants to help others.

After he earns his bachelor’s degree, Yother wants to join the U.S. Navy as a commissioned officer.

“Down the road, I’d like to the represent the State Department as a foreign service officer; that would be my dream job,” Yother said. “You represent the interests of Americans abroad, protect them and stand up for their rights.

“I’d love to be in France. I speak some decent French, but I really like the French culture. The opportunity to be stationed anywhere abroad would be an honor.”

His brothers, Eric and Josh Yother, currently serve in the U.S Navy and Marine Corps., respectively. Allison Yother has also considered a military career.

“We’re from a huge military family, and I almost joined right after high school,” Chris Yother said. “Both of my grandfathers were in the military and lots of uncles and a great-grandfather.”

Chris Yother said he and his siblings weren’t falling behind at their local public school, but a private institution seemed “more like a better fit,” adding that their ninth-grade transition to Brevard Private Academy “was very smooth.”

“I liked it a lot,” he said. “The big difference was (smaller) class sizes. The instruction was more personalized. The teachers could do more one-on-one stuff. The environment was modified to help the individual.

“In public school, we were having trouble connecting with the instructors and the material.”

Brown, Yother’s mother, was especially pleased with the change of environment for her quadruplets.

“With the one-on-one attention, they really learned and excelled,” she said.

Jenna Brocchini, an administrator at Brevard Private Academy, described Chris Yother as the most outgoing of his siblings. His positive effect on the small private school was almost immediate.

“He’s a friend to everybody and probably never had an enemy a day in his life,” Brocchini said. “What always struck me about him was he always had a very strong interest in politics. He actually went to see Obama speak” at Merritt Island in 2010.

“He camped out just to see the president speak. He was there the night before, and Obama didn’t speak until the afternoon. He was there in a camping chair and waiting for hours. A lot of kids that age don’t know much about politics or really care.”

As Yother prepares for his senior year at UCF, he is working at Office Depot, where he fixes computers in the technology department. He is also busy organizing paperwork for the Navy.

“It’s a rarity that I have much down time, although I did take a little break this summer,” he said. “I like to read a lot, stay home and still follow all the political stuff.”

And, he’s still helping people.

Brocchini said she recently posted a message on Brevard Private Academy’s Facebook page, asking if anyone could help set up computers at the school or offer technological support.

“Right away, he said, ‘I’ll come, anytime,’” she said. “He’s one of those people you rarely come across. He used to tutor his peers, and he wasn’t selfish with his counseling. He was always ready to help any of his friends. Public service is something I’ve always seen him doing.

“He’s a real humanitarian. I really feel like he’s going to have a successful future.”

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