On Wednesday, December 1st, six high school and seven middle school Club members competed for the titles of 2017 Youth of the Year and Junior Youth of the Year. This annual competition awards more than $10,000 in college scholarships to the top candidates. The Youth of the Year program recognizes teens for outstanding contributions to a member’s family, school, community and Boys & Girls Club, as well as personal challenges and obstacles overcome. Special thanks to the incredible volunteer mentors from UFCU and HomeAway, who coached candidates with their speech writing and delivery. Thanks to our judges, The Honorable Sarah Eckhardt, Travis County Judge; Erin Cargile, Anchor/Investigative Reporter for KXAN; Denise & Jerry Conway, Austin Sonic; Chief Tom Dodds, Austin Fire Department; Dr. Gloria Williams, AISD; BGCAA VP of Marketing (board), American Bank; and Norma Cabaza, Austin Boys and Girls Club Foundation board member. And a big shout out to Hilton Austin for supporting our YOY program in numerous ways, including sponsoring our celebratory banquet!
Congratulations to all of these outstanding Club members. Please take a moment to read their stories.
Wendy Rodriguez, 2017 North Texas Youth of the Year
Wendy’s dream is to become Mayor of Austin and that she wants to make both her Club family and her biological family proud of her. She is a senior at the Ann Richards School of Young Women Leaders and a member of “Girls Club.” She says that she never gives up on anything that she starts, she has won trustee’s awards, Latino Achievement awards, was a student body president at Ann Richards, and she volunteers regularly at J.J. Pickle Elementary School and her church. Wendy advanced from the local Youth of the Year to North Texas Youth of the Year, qualifying her to compete for Texas Youth of the Year in March. Click here to read the full press release.
Christian Brown, 2017 Junior Youth of the Year
Christian sets high goals for himself because throughout his leadership experiences as House Leader of his school, a tutor, on junior staff, and hopefully soon to be president of student council, he said he has learned that “he leads of the people, by the people, to the people, and with the people.” Additionally, he has had the highest GPA in his class for 2 years now and will not accept below a 90 on any of his work.
Amani McDonald, Youth of the Year Runner-Up
Amani was Jr. Youth of the Year in 2015, challenges himself with AP or Pre-AP courses, and is Vice President of Chalmers’ Keystone Club. He currently speaks on behalf of BGCAA and has completed over 100 hours of volunteering because he feels that no one should feel alone.
Keyera Lane, Junior Youth of the Year Runner-Up
Keyera says that she wants to represent the Boys & Girls Club as a Jr. YOY because she will show others what this organization is, much like she did when she won the Purple Star for embodying her school honor code and creed. Additionally, she would like to show the world that someone so small can make a difference and would like to graduate high school with an Associate Degree in hand.
Robby Joseph, Youth of the Year Finalist
Robby has been a member for 9 years and is President of Significant Leaders in Male Education, is a team leader in Fire Academy, and volunteers with XY – Zone. He says that it would be an honor to be able to spread the word of Boys & Girls Clubs because of the impacts that it has on people’s lives.
Lester Parnell, Youth of the Year Finalist
Lester is a Keystone officer, point guard of his school and Club team, has been awarded in sciences and orchestra for playing the violin and has a zero-tolerance policy for drugs being around him. He says his goal is to encourage others to run for National Youth of the Year, raise attendance at the Clubs, and to leave a big impact on his high school and Club communities.
Ashley Macedo, Youth of the Year Finalist
Ashley has a long-term goal of becoming a neurologist and she is already taking college courses to enter college classified as a junior. She works hard, is in Torch Club, AVID, and participates in volunteer opportunities in her Club and with AVID.
Caley Fuller, Youth of the Year Finalist
Caley believes that everyone has the ability to be GREAT and she is committed to making a difference in youth by volunteering every Sunday morning with her church, volunteering with Mission Possible, and by being involved in her Club. She is also in AP US World History, National Honor Society, and she is president of Keystone at her Club.
Marcelus Milligan, Junior Youth of the Year Finalist
When Marcelus is not building rockets in his Technology Career class, he is chasing his dreams, not only by winning leadership medals, but also by running for an elected position in his Torch Club. He advocates to his peers to “Say No to Drugs,” and he was awarded for displaying respect, listening skills, completing all his work, and being an attentive participant in everything he does.
Esperanza Olvera, Junior Youth of the Year Finalist
Despite Esperanza having to help her single father out around the house, she still represents herself as a positive role model at her Club, because she always makes time every day to visit, help, and have a positive attitude. Additionally, she inspires others because she is in enrolled in all Pre-AP courses, was commended on STAAR testing, and volunteers on a regular basis with her Girl Scout Troop.
Orlin Mugomoka, Junior Youth of the Year Finalist
Orlin says that he is kind to others and very focused on academics, which explains why he has a dream to be Valedictorian. He also dreams to make his high school football team and to get scholarships to Texas A&M University. He participated in Art and Club Tech at his Club, is in chess club, made honor roll, and is in the science Olympiad.
Juliette Najera, Junior Youth of the Year Finalist
Juliette says that she is respectful of the people around her and that she has an aspiration to attend college. She constantly challenges herself with her course work, helps avidly at her Club, and is always willing to help others study during power hour.
Alicia Rideau, Junior Youth of the Year Finalist
Alicia would like to be a social worker and to get out of her neighborhood because in her book anything is possible when you put your mind to it. Additionally, she has completed over 100 hours of volunteering, participates in AVID, is treasurer of her Torch Club, and Historian of Keystone.