2013 Youth of the Year
Illiana Smith is awarded the 2013 Boys & Girls Clubs of Central New Mexico Youth of the Year.
Albuquerque, New Mexico: The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central New Mexico (BGCCNM) is pleased to announce Illiana Smith as the 2013 BGCCNM Youth of the Year. This honor is awarded based on an individual’s sound character, leadership skills and willingness to give back to the community. Smith exemplifies these qualities and will certainly be a strong contender in the state Youth of the Year competition set to take place on March 2nd in Alamogordo, NM.
Smith is a poised 15 year old who is an accomplished dancer at the Public Academy for Performing Arts in Albuquerque. Her dream is to dance with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company in New York City; in the meantime, she is a dedicated student who has worked hard to overcome significant challenges in her life. She says, “When I first moved to Albuquerque, I was behind at school because I had missed so many days. Now, I’m in an advanced math class!” Smith is very proud of this fact, as well she should be. She started coming to the BGCCNM 9 years ago when she would visit her grandmother in Albuquerque. Eventually, at the age of 7, she moved to the southwest permanently, leaving behind the cold winters of Minneapolis. She attends the Club most days after school and during the summer. When sitting with her at the Club, it’s clear that the younger children look up to her as they continuously run over to her and give her hugs or sit on her lap.
I asked Smith what it means to her to represent her Club at the State Youth of the Year Competition and, without skipping a beat, said “I want to give back to my Club for all that it has done for me.” She credits the Club for helping her to become a leader, a role model, to learn and to have fun. She says that the Club has encouraged her to do her best, achieve her goals and to live her dream. “The Boys and Girls Club has become my second family.”
The state Youth of the Year Competition will take place on March 2nd in Alamogordo, NM. Smith will compete among 24 representatives from across the state to become the State Youth of the Year, representing all Boys & Girls Clubs in New Mexico, and receiving a $1,000 college scholarship. If chosen, she will then compete at the regional level this summer where she could win an additional $10,000 college scholarship from Tupperware Brands, the recognition program’s national sponsor. Five regional winners will advance to Washington, D.C., in September 2013, to compete for the title of BGCA’s National Youth of the Year. The National Youth of the Year will receive an additional scholarship of up to $50,000 from The Rick and Susan Goings Foundation and will have the opportunity to meet with the President of the United States in the White House.
As Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier youth recognition program, Youth of the Year recognizes outstanding contributions to a member’s family, school, community and Boys & Girls Club, as well as overcoming personal challenges and obstacles. The recognition program encourages Club members to reach their full potential by achieving academic success, leading healthy lifestyles and contributing to their communities. These extraordinary young leaders are shining examples and living proof that great futures start at Boys & Girls Clubs.
For more information about the Youth of the Year program, visit www.bgca.org/yoy.