Member Spotlight Jan 16

The Best Lessons  Alumni Spotlight: Traci Burton

Traci Burton first came to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor at the age of nine. For Traci and her younger sister Destini, the Clubs started off as a safe, fun place to spend summer days. Along the way, the Clubs came to mean so much more to Traci and her family. It was former Club drama and dance instructor Deloris Gowens who would change Traci’s entire perspective. “What I am doing today and who I am is because of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor,” says Traci.

“There were so many opportunities available to me at the Club,” says Traci, now 21 and a senior at Western Michigan University. She talks about the chance to meet with young professionals from Whirlpool Corporation who helped her understand the potential her future held. Traci was among a group of Club members who met Olympic athlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee at the Club. She was also excited about all of the field trips she took. One of the highlights for Traci, though, was the Children’s Music Workshop seminars where she and her fellow Club members were able to learn more about the performance arts: dance, music and drama.
Traci fondly remembers playing the character Dumb Donald in the Club’s production of Fat Albert. Club-produced plays help members build confidence and self-esteem while learning teamwork. “Ms. Gowens always encouraged us to express ourselves and it was the first time that I felt really confident,” says Traci. 

Traci is excited about graduating in April from Western Michigan University where she is majoring in Film, Video and Media with a double minor in Non-Profit Leadership and Gender & Women’s Studies. She wants to dedicate her life to bringing conscious media back to the forefront. “I want to empower others the way that the Clubs empowered me,” she says.

Whatever she does, Traci says, “I just can’t stay away from the Boys & Girls Clubs!” During her first years of college, Traci worked at the Clubs’ Fettig Youth Campus in Benton Harbor, assisting in the art room her first summer and in the drama department the second. This past summer, she worked at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kalamazoo. “The Clubs are a passion for me and I just want to give back.” Traci says her entire family feels the same, “We are a Club family!”

One of the biggest lessons Traci has learned from her time with the Clubs is that everyone is important and has feelings. She came to recognize that not everyone has the same opportunities, but everyone deserves respect regardless of their background. “Wherever I go, the Clubs will always be a part of me. I gained a whole new family.”

To learn more about how to get involved with the Club’s Alumni & Friends Association, please visit us at 

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