Meet the 6 youth of the year finalists of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio for 2021

Boys & Girls Clubs finalists will compete March 3 for city’s top prize; winner advances to state, nationals

UPDATE: Six of the most impressive young people in the area competed to be San Antonio’s “Youth of the Year” in the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s national competition for 2021.

On March 3, each of the finalists’ stories were told and the winner was announced at the nonprofit’s fourth-annual Youth of the Year UnGala virtual event, hosted by KSAT anchor Ursula Pari.

Lauren, a sophomore at KIPP University Prep, was named the winner of this year’s event.

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(Original Story)

They are six of our city’s great youths who have overcome obstacles and are making outstanding contributions in their families and communities. They’re competing to be San Antonio’s “Youth of the Year” in the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s national competition for 2021.

On March 3 at 7 p.m., each of the finalists’ stories were told and the winner was announced at the nonprofit’s fourth-annual Youth of the Year UnGala virtual event, hosted by KSAT anchor Ursula Pari.

“During this special event, six Youth of the Year finalists, ages 16-18, present their personal stories of triumph in the face of adversity for a chance to win college scholarships and advance to the state competition in March,” reads a press release about the event.

You can stream the event live in the player below or on the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio’s Facebook page.

The Youth of the Year program is considered to be the pinnacle of all Boys & Girls Clubs programs. The competition is described as a culmination of months of workshops and one-on-one training on essay writing and public speaking.

“The Youth of the Year award recognizes exemplary teens who have made significant contributions to their family, school, community, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio,” organizers said.

The winner of the San Antonio competition will receive a scholarship and advance to the state competition, with a chance to advance to the regional and national competitions. Each step of the journey provides the winners with scholarships and prizes.

Below are biographies of the six San Antonio Youth of the Year finalists provided by The Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio, with a video introducing each of them.

Araceli “Celi”

Araceli “Celi” is a junior at Jubilee San Antonio, where she has maintained an A/B Honor Roll and participated in the Texas A&M Dual Credit program. Her goal is to become a Marine Biologist, and she credits one of her more memorable Club experiences as a beach cleanup trip. Through her time at the club, Celi participated in several of the programs, including SMART Girls, the club volleyball team, and Junior Staff. She credits the Clubs with helping her develop her confidence and become the strong, talented, goofy young woman she is today.

Joseph

Joseph, a graduating senior from KIPP University Prep, wants to attend Harvard after graduation. As National Youth of the Year, he says he wants to change people’s stereotypes of today’s youth. After a devastating injury that ended his varsity soccer career, Joseph says his priorities changed, and he has focused more on helping others. At the Clubs, he has participated in the Keystone Club – volunteering at the Doseum, the San Antonio Rock N Roll Marathon, and Habitat for Humanity.

Juan

For over ten years, Juan has been a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio. A junior from Memorial High School, Juan anticipates attending UTSA after graduation. Throughout his years with BGCSA, Juan credits programs like Diplomas to Degrees with instilling in him the importance of education and how it can impact your career and your life. Without the Clubs, he says, he would not have a plan for attending college; now, Juan wants to become a Counselor and help other teens who face obstacles in their own lives.

Lauren

One of the youngest finalists this year, Lauren is a sophomore at KIPP University Prep. Lauren has overcome family struggles throughout the years – the child of a single parent with four other siblings – to develop keen leadership skills and independence. She credits her time at BGCSA with helping her overcome incredible shyness and strive to become more confident in herself. Lauren dreams of becoming a police officer after going to college, and her new-found confidence will definitely help her in pursuing that dream.

Elizabeth “Lizzie”

Elizabeth is a senior preparing to graduate from STEM Early College High School. She hopes to attend Texas A&M University and become an Aerospace Engineer. Lizzie has been an active member of the Club’s Young Achievers program, focusing on improving her skills to be college-ready. An avid Star Wars fan, she has a keen interest in robotics, which she credits with helping her overcome shyness and self-doubt.

Margarita

Finally, we meet Margarita, a junior from KIPP University Prep. Like so many others, Margarita felt the devastating effects of the COVID pandemic this past year. Despite losing family members, she refused to give up on her dreams of eventually attending UTSA and working with the arts. Margarita hopes to use her experiences growing up to draw attention to and breakthrough society’s gender norming expectations.

See past winners and finalists here.

Take a tour of the Boys & Girls Club of San Antonio’s facility below.

About the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio

From the organization’s website: “The mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio (BGCSA) is to inspire youth, especially those who need them most, to achieve their full potential in a safe, positive and engaging environment that promotes education, health and character development. The Clubs provide after school and summer programs for youth, ages 6 to 18 years old. BGCSA creates an engaging space for over 1,000 youth who may otherwise be home alone, unsupervised. At BGCSA, members not only have fun, they stay safe, foster positive relationships, build self-confidence and succeed. Visit BeGreatSA.org for more information.”

Find more KSAT coverage of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio here.