2014 Youth of the Year Finalists
Six accomplished Boys & Girls Club members, but only one national winner ...
Cecilia Garza
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas – Williams Prep Branch, Tex.

Southwest Region: Cecilia overcame many heartbreaking challenges at a young age before becoming a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas. From financial struggles to homelessness, physical abuse to not having enough to eat, Cecilia and her five younger siblings found their safe haven at the Club while their mother worked two jobs. At the Club, Cecilia thrived and participated in numerous activities, all while taking care of her siblings. Cecilia studies biochemistry at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga. Her goal is to become a surgeon.

Tae McKenzie
Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, Wash.

Pacific Region: The oldest of four, Tae was raised by a single mother. She helped out around the house and got her little brother ready for school every day. While Tae’s mother worked to support the family, she needed a safe place for her children to go after school, so she sent them to the Club. At age 7, Tae joined the Club, where she thrived. Staff became family and the Club became a home where Tae could be herself, serve others and feel like she mattered. Tae graduated high school with a 3.3 GPA. The University of Washington freshman carries a double-major in business and communications. Her future plans included starting an image consulting firm.

Jasmnika Newbern
Boys & Girls Club of Benton Harbor, Mich.

Midwest Region: Raised by a single parent, Jasmnika took a leadership role in her household at a young age. When she was in 10th grade, Jasmnika saved her money and purchased a car so she could take her younger brother to school in the morning while their mother went to work. Jasmnika’s commitment to greatness extends to her academic pursuits. She was voted senior class president and salutatorian, and will be the first member of her family to attend college.

Sparkle Prevard
Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City, N.J.

Northeast Region: Sparkle needed a place to escape the dangerous streets of Atlantic City. After losing her mother at a young age, in addition to growing up without a father, Sparkle was left virtually homeless. She joined her Club at a very volatile time in her life but quickly found her second family there. As her confidence grew, she become more active in Club and school activities, gaining strength from her fellow Club members and staff. She was also instrumental in spearheading the Mayor’s Youth Empowerment Council for the City of Atlantic City. Sparkle is a student at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey where she studies political science, international relations and education. She plans to become a teacher and community leader.

Maryah Sullivan
Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, Fla.

Southeast Region: Maryah is both an extremely driven Club member and student. In addition to her dedication to her Club, she has also served as National Honor Society President, senior class secretary, BETA Club member, French honor society member, captain of the girls track and field club, captain of the weightlifting team in addition to being named the 2012-2013 weightlifting district champion. She maintained a 4.4 GPA at Edgewater High School. Currently, Maryah is a freshman at the University of South Florida. She is the first in her family to be accepted into college.

Natalia Lynch
Military Youth of the Year

Natalia was an active member of the Wiesbaden Youth Center, participating in and promoting a variety of artistic and cultural opportunities that are regularly offered through the Club. During her time at the Center she created her own band (Volition), which performed two years in a row at BGCA’s National Conference. Natalia has also performed multiples times at Carnegie Hall in NYC with the Milal Missionary Choir and Orchestra. She attended high school in Germany and completed her Abitur (German high school diploma). Natalia is now a student at Vanderbilt University.

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