2022-23 Pacific Youth of the Year
Club/Organization: Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor
Length of Membership: 12 years
Anticipated College: University of Southern California
Career Interest: Business
Defining Characteristics: Passionate, Resilient
"Be yourself in the most unapologetic way possible, so as to leave the world a better place and with new ideologies than before your arrival, accepting and even flaunting all disapproval as a badge of honor along the way."
Every young person, like Nicolas, deserves a safe, positive environment in which to learn and grow.
When Nicolas first entered his Club at the recommendation of his two sisters, he was asking questions he didn’t know the answers for. “What would I do for a career? Would I even have or pursue one?” he says he often asked. Coming from a single parent household, he says he often wondered about his future career: “how could I if we’ve never had the financial means?”
But at the Club, he had the freedom to adopt many identities and explore many interests. He says sometimes he was a “perfect” member and sometimes he was “the annoying/energetic member,” but through it all, the Club was with him and supported him no matter what. The Club was a constant source of inspiration and community as he persevered through personal hardships and focused on goals like taking AP classes and achieving a high GPA.
The Club “gave me a place to express my emotions without judgement, while also providing guidance on how to understand and manage them,” Nicolas says. “They gave me a space in which I’ve been able to grow leadership skills by working with other youth at various leadership conferences and simple day-to-day activities at our Clubhouse.”
Since joining, Nicolas has taken part in Arts Academy, sports, College Bound programming, Keystone Club, dual enrollment college courses and other programs that sparked career interests. Through the Club, he’s spoken at countless events, gone on field trips and even had the chance to meet and interview his idol, Kobe Bryant. “It is no longer a question of if I will find my dream career, but now it’s simply a matter of picking one and having the Club guide me there.”