The Ten Outstanding Young Minnesotans (TOYM) program is Minnesota’s only statewide recognition program for young leaders who have made major contributions to our state through volunteer service, community involvement, singular expertise, innovative thought or entrepreneurship.
TOYM honorees reflect the vast diversity of young people making a difference in the community through business, nonprofit and community organizations, education and government service.
MinnPost and MinnPost’s YPN are proud to be a 2011 TOYM partner, sharing the stories of each of this year’s exceptional honorees.
Today’s featured Outstanding Young Minnesotan is Ross Alan Monten of Apple Valley: Special Duty Naval Intelligence Officer candidate.
Monten, a serviceman since 2005, has excelled throughout his military and academic careers and has been recognized recurrently for his distinguished leadership.
A cancer survivor, Monten suffered from T-cell lymphoma at age five, receiving care for nine months at Children’s Hospital in St. Paul.
After graduating high school in 2004, Monten applied to the U.S. Air Force; because of his history of cancer, it took a year to get the necessary waiver.
When the waiver finally came through in May of 2005, Monten enlisted and served at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, where he instructed military personnel on warzone techniques and nuclear operations.
While on active duty, Monten earned his two-year associate’s degree in 10 months, graduating with high honors.
In 2007, Monten volunteered for a deployment to Kirkuk, Iraq, earning four medals and ribbons while in combat.
During his time in Iraq, Monten began online courses toward a B.A. in Emergency and Disaster Management. Upon his return to Minot, Monten completed work on his four-year degree, again graduating with honors.
While enlisted, Monten embodied the Air Force’s core values of “integrity first,” “service before self” and “excellence in all we do,” receiving numerous commendations for his management, including a citation for outstanding leadership of a 16-man team for nuclear decontamination operations.
After serving on active duty for over three years, Monten was able to transfer to the Air National Guard at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport in 2008 in order to pursue a Master’s degree in public policy at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
In 2009, Monten took a leave from the Humphrey School to serve with the Department of State in Washington, D.C.
In 2010, Monten temporarily relocated to London, where he earned a Master of Science degree with merit from the London School of Economics.
After returning to the U.S., Monten completed his Master of Public Policy degree at the U of M in 2011 — his fourth higher education diploma in just over four years.
Within that time frame, he received numerous awards and scholarships, including grants from Minneapolis Masonic Lodge, The Air Force Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund, Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Monten’s stellar record of accomplishments led to his selection for the 2011 Presidential Management Fellows Program, a prestigious two-year government leadership training program that matches outstanding graduate students with fellowships in U.S. federal government agencies.
Recently, Monten has taken his military and public policy experience into the public domain, writing guest columns for Northfield News, publishing opinion pieces in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and giving public speeches on nuclear weapon policy.
Currently a candidate to become a Special Duty Navy Intelligence Officer, Monten is presently attending Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I.
Learn more about the TOYM program and the upcoming 2011 TOYM/OYF Awards Celebration on Saturday, Dec. 3, at Eventbrite.
Tickets are going fast, so get yours now! Help honor our state’s remarkable emerging leaders!
Stay tuned during the next two weeks as we feature profiles of each of the 2011 TOYM honorees. Up next: arts advocate Megan Leafblad, assistant director of international programs at MCAD.