Selected from 18 outstanding local youth from Snohomish, Island, and Kitsap Counties, Erika R. Aguilar of Oak Harbor was named the Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County 2014 YOUTH OF THE YEAR at an Awards Dinner on Thursday, January 29 at Rosehill Community Center in Mukilteo. Erika had already been named the Oak Harbor Club Youth of the Year. Although Oak Harbor is in Island County, the Club is one of 19 under the Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County (BGCSC) umbrella. Erika was awarded a $1,500 scholarship.
The Youth of the Year program begins at the Club level as each BGCSC Club selects their Youth of the Month. A finalist from each Club competes to become the BGCSC Youth of the Year. Being named Youth of the Year is the highest honor a Boys & Girls Club member can obtain. 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. Youth of the Year encourages Club members to reach their full potential by achieving academic success, leading healthy lifestyles and contributing to their communities. Youth of the Year honorees are living proof that great futures start at the Boys & Girls Club.
“Erika started off as a Club member in 6th grade. She has grown from someone who was very isolated, to a staff member who works with and interacts with all youth in our Club. She coordinates our kindergarten program, and volunteers countless hours at the Club,” said Nikki Barone, Unit Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Oak Harbor.
Erika expressed that as a youngster she was anti-social and angry at everything and everyone. Getting involved at the Club and having Club staff on her side helped her make friends and overcome her negative attitude. She struggled academically, and entered middle school with a third grade reading level. However, she was able to defeat her academic struggles because of Club staff help and tutoring during the Club’s Power Hour program. Erika indicated that the Club has shown her the importance of staying focused on her education so she could have a better future.
“Erika is a great example to our Club kids as someone who has utilized all of the Club’s resources to point her in the direction she wants to go in life,” shared Nikki. “She is a very motivated young woman, self-driven to succeed in school and life. She believes her education has been very important to her success. Erika attended Oak Harbor High School, graduating ahead of schedule with Honors and a 3.65 GPA. She currently attends Skagit Valley Community College, pursuing a Medical Assistant degree.”
Erika will go on to compete at the Washington State level against Youths of the Year from Boys & Girls Clubs across the state. Winners each receive a $1,000 scholarship and participate in regional competitions. Five regional winners each receive a $10,000 scholarship and compete on the national level. The National Youth of the Year receives up to an additional $50,000 scholarship and the opportunity to meet and be recognized by the President of the United States.
A complete list of the BGCSC 2014 Youth of the Year Candidates are as follows:
Abdalah Badjan (Alderwood Club); Joe Zak (Arlington Club); Samuel Agyei (Cascade Club); Raechel Kundert (Coupeville Club); Jacquelyn Lovelace (Edmonds Club); Rhiann Flores (Everett Club); McKayla Olson (Granite Falls Club); Katelyn Hall (Lake Stevens Club); Madison Brewer (Marysville Club); Kayla Steltz (Monroe Club); Trevor Gray (Mukilteo Club); Ben Pirtle (North Kitsap Club); Erika R. Aguilar (Oak Harbor Club); Meghan Boob (Snohomish Club); Alexis Alamillo (S. Everett/Mukilteo Club); Joseph Schmidt (Sultan Club); Ocean Holscher (Trailside Club); Angelica Trinidad (Tulalip Club)
Judges for the event were Terry Ackley, Tania Halladay, Dominic Ivankovich, Noni LaLone, Bill Rucker, and Preston Simmons.