Geneva Reyes said she was surpised after hearing her nomination for the Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year in December. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Local Boys & Girls Club honors Youth of the Year

By Nathaneal Rodriguez
For The Signal

Like thousands of other Santa Clarita Valley youth, Geneva Reyes joined the SCV Boys & Girls Club not long after her first classes.

One of hundreds of children who use the organization each day in the SCV, the Hart High junior now has learned to become a role model for her peers and earned the title Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year from the local chapter, for which she was recently recognized.

Reyes was surprised after hearing about her nomination in December. She had just completed a breakfast speech at the club, and was then nominated for the recognition.

“I thought it was really cool,” Reyes said of the honor. “I’ve been here for 11 years — it was something that was kind of unexpected.”

Reyes joined the club at age 6, enjoying the after-school program while her single mother worked to support the family. She credited the club with helping her to become a successful, well-rounded student.

Besides her character, a series of other accomplishments qualified her for the nomination. She has maintained a 3.9 GPA, earned acceptance into the California State Federal Scholarship Program, works as a sports-medicine intern and plays soccer for Hart’s varsity squad.

Reyes attributes all of these accomplishments to the impact of the club.

“Those are all things that I’ve been able to achieve with the mindset that the Boys & Girls Club helped me grow,” Reyes said.

Reyes was given two months of preparation after she learned she was nominated. During this time, she wrote multiple essays and sent out requests for letters of recommendation — which gave the judges a picture of who Reyes was before she stepped into the interview.

“I knew that what I wanted to say was in my heart, so I just got up there and spoke my mind,” she said of the experience. “Being able to share my story with these judges was really cool. They actually wanted to see how being a member has affected my life.”

Reyes was chosen out of six teens from the club, after interviewing in front of nine judges, as well as Mary Hewitt, executive director of the Los Angeles County Alliance for Boys & Girls Club. The questions were introspective, delving into personal areas, such as Reyes’ upbringing and morals.

“She presented herself very professionally. She spoke very well about her life experiences,” said Boys & Girls Club CEO Matt Nelson. “She could speak very well as to how the club has been supportive of her.”

After graduation, Reyes plans to pursue a master’s degree in kinesiology, as well as become a homeowner and buy her mother a house. She also plans to keep the Boys & Girls Club a part of her life by marrying, having kids and then enrolling them in the Boys & Girls Club.

As Youth of the Year, Reyes will be given the opportunity to compete with other club members on the countywide level. On March 21, the winner is expected to be announced, who will then go on to compete in the state level in Sacramento.

The California state winner will go to the Pacific West Conference and from there to the national level. The winner at the national level receives up to $26,000 in scholarships, and a recognition from the president of the United States.

Reyes is more than thrilled to be a part of this competition.

“I want to show kids that no matter what your upbringing is, no matter where you come from,” Reyes said, “that you can be the best version of you.”

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