Member Spotlight Apr 17

Great Futures Start Here. Member Spotlight: Imani L., Youth of the Year 2017

In February, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor was honored to select Imani L. as the 2017 Benton Harbor Youth of the Year. Earlier this month, Imani represented Benton Harbor at the Michigan Youth of the Year competition held in Perrysburg, Ohio. “When you lose something, you do not give up,” is a quote that perfectly describes Imani’s outlook and her fierce sense of determination.

Since 1947, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Youth of the Year program has honored and celebrated the nation’s most inspiring teens. Every Club selects a Youth of the Year based on their experience and how the Boys & Girls Clubs have impacted their lives and put them on a path for their future incredible journeys. Stories of personal development, overcoming challenges, and how the Clubs change young lives to achieve our three priority member outcomes of academic success, character and leadership development, and engaging in healthy lifestyles are on public display. However, the Youth of the Year program going on behind the scenes prepares teen members to present their speech, complete an application and essay, and prepare for interviews.   
We are incredibly proud of Imani, having watched her develop in to a confident young lady who mastered public speaking and has developed into a leader within the Club and our community. Imani had a wonderful experience at the state competition and strong support from her mother, school, and the Club at the event. Youth of the Year is a signature Club program with the goal of fostering a new generation of leaders. Imani is the epitome of that message and has become a role model to her peers and a younger generation of Club members.

A high school junior at Dream Academy, Imani hopes to attend Michigan State University and become an anesthesiologist. Imani has been maintaining a 4.0 grade point average since her freshman year and continues her dedication to education. One-on-one tutors in the College and Career Readiness Center are helping Imani plan for the future. She is using her time at the Club to prepare for college. Through the Freshman 50/Teen Ambassador program and Diplomas to Degrees, Imani is working toward high school graduation and her goal to attend MSU. 
The goal to attend college is not just a vision Imani holds for herself. “My vision for America’s youth is to see them set goals and accomplish them. I want to see more youth graduating from high school and going to college,” said the teen. “In my opinion, school is the place where your future is determined.”  

Even more, Imani believes that every person has a purpose. “To fulfill that purpose, you have to believe in yourself,” she said. Imani will continue to use her platform as Youth of the Year to encourage her peers and those younger members who will follow. “I frequently find Imani seeking out classmates that are struggling in a task that she has mastered and offering assistance,” said Kevin Weiss, Science Teacher at Dream Academy. “Imani’s future is only limited by her own dreams and aspirations.”

Being a part of the Youth of the Year program is an exciting and inspiring journey. Each year, thousands of Club teens across the country and on military installations around the world participate in local, state, and regional Youth of the Year events. Six teens, comprised of five regional winners and a national military youth winner, advance to Washington, D.C., for the National Youth of the Year Gala & Celebration Dinner, where one outstanding young person is named Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s national teen spokesperson.

The Youth of the Year program is truly building the next generation and equipping them with the tools to lead.
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