Finalists are selected based on interviews, academic achievements, essays, service to their Clubs, and overall personality and presentation skills. Maryah is a senior in high school with a 4.43 grade-point average and plans to attend the University of South Florida next year as a pre-med major. She is National Honor Society president, a weightlifting district champion, Keystone Club president and still makes time to volunteer.
These accomplishments are impressive for any high school student but become even more inspiring when you think of the strength Maryah has had her whole life. Like many BGCA members, Maryah did not have the luxuries that many grow up with. She was born to a single teen mother who worked multiple jobs to support the family, causing her to be away from home often. Therefore, Maryah took on the role of helping to raise her younger siblings. Despite the very adult struggles Maryah had to endure as a child, at 6 years old, she discovered the Joe R. Lee Branch and used it as a positive place where she could learn and grow. The Club provided homework assistance, food, activities and adult mentorship for her.
Each round of the Youth of the Year process provides additional scholarships for Maryah to pursue her dreams. The Youth of the Year is BGCA’s top honor and strives to promote Club service, community and family, academic success, strong moral character, life goals, poise, and public speaking abilities. The National Youth of the Year serves for one year and is the official BGCA teen spokesperson, advocating for our youth.
In addition to Joe Lee’s passion, Darden has been proud to support BGCA and help our youth achieve their full potential through financial contributions, personal involvement and sponsorship of BGCA’s Diplomas to Degrees program.
Maryah credits her Club with helping kids from difficult circumstances achieve their dreams. We are honored to have Maryah represent the Joe R. Lee Branch and wish her continued success in both the BGCA Youth of the Year competition and beyond as she pursues her life goals!
Update; Maryah was awarded the honor of the 2014 National Youth of the Year in September 2014. Congrats Maryah!