The Boys & Girls Club of Henderson County recently awarded the title of 2019 Youth of the Year to East Henderson High School junior Alex Acosta. Acosta was one of four members from the Boys & Girls Club of Henderson County competing for the Youth of the Year title and a $1,000 college aid scholarship provided by Hunter Subaru. Following this local level of recognition, Acosta will go on to compete for the North Carolina Youth of the Year title and a $5,000 college scholarship from Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
In their bid for the title of Youth of the Year, Acosta, along with fellow candidates Maya Gash, Xzavier Jacobs, and Julius Hooper submitted portfolios for review including volunteer hours, report cards, and multiple essays. In addition, the four were interviewed on January 21 by a panel of three judges before presenting a speech to the more than 100 guests in attendance. Volunteer judges included Dr. Laura Leatherwood, President of Blue Ridge Community College; Johnny Johnston, longtime supporter and Fazio Golf Tournament committee member; and, Randy Hunter, Boys & Girls Club Board member and Chairman of Hunter Corporation. The judges based their decision on the portfolios submitted, candidate interviews and the final presentation before the attendees at the luncheon.
Following graduation from East Henderson High School, Acosta hopes to attend UNC Chapel Hill or an Ivy League school where he plans to study to become a pediatrician. “Alex has already demonstrated his commitment to youth as a volunteer and Junior Staff member at the Club,” said JC Schwab, Executive Director for the Boys & Girls Club of Henderson County. Acosta leads a 2nd grade class as part of his job at the Club. In his speech, Acosta spoke to the desire to inspire younger Club members. “I want those talented kids to see what they are capable of. I want to be the best role model for them.” Further adding, “I am a product of the Club, and without the Club I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”
Inspired by each of the exceptional youth competing for the title of Youth of the Year, an anonymous donor stepped forward to provide college aid scholarship of $500 each to the remaining competitors. “This is such a wonderful surprise and a testament to the tremendous impact these youth had on the people in the room,” said Schwab. “As an organization, we strive to provide scholarship aid to all of our graduates for post-secondary pursuits. Due to generous private and corporate donors like Hunter Subaru and our anonymous donor who stepped forward today, we have been able to secure over $300,000 in college aid for 93 members throughout the last two decades.”
The Youth of the Year title is a prestigious honor bestowed upon an exemplary young person in recognition of leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to live a healthy lifestyle. Now in its 72nd year, the Youth of the Year program honors the nation’s most awe-inspiring young people on their path to great futures and encourages all kids to lead, succeed and inspire.
If Acosta wins at the state competition, he will compete for the title of Southeast Region Youth of the Year and an additional $10,000 college scholarship, renewable for four years up to $40,000. Five regional winners will advance to Washington, D.C. in September 2019, to compete for the title of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year. The National Youth of the Year will receive an additional scholarship of $25,000, renewable each year up to $100,000.