Teens compete for Youth of the Year

Glenn Gullickson's picture

Two young women from the West Valley were among 13 teenagers vying for the Youth of the Year Award presented by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix.

The winner, Leonel Cano Leon from the Ed Robson Family Branch in Phoenix, was named last week at the annual Today’s Kids, Tomorrow’s Stars gala, a fundraising event for the organization at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix.

West Valley candidates for the award were Raquel Munguia of Avondale and Celia Rodriguez of Tolleson.

They were selected by the staff at their clubs to compete for the award, and during the gala shared their stories of inspiration and thriving despite adversity.

Munguia, 18, a senior at Desert Edge High School in Goodyear, said she has been attending the Boys & Girls Club Tri-City West/Thornwood Branch in Avondale for 14 years.

At the gala, she shared how her experience with the club led her to a father figure when her own father wasn’t involved in her life, she said.

The club helped me find my true calling and purpose in life,” Munguia said.

She said she will attend Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, where she plans to study nursing with the goal of becoming a pediatric oncologist.

Rodriguez, 18, a senior at La Joya Community High School in Avondale, said she has attended the Woodrow C. Scoutten/Tolleson Branch for two years.

She said the program has helped her develop confidence and communication skills.

At the gala, she talked about how the club helped after she lost contact with several family members, Rodriguez said.

The club helped me to fill that void and helped me find my voice,” she said.

Rodriguez said she plans to attend the University of Arizona in Tucson to study biological sciences, with the goal of becoming a pediatrician.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix provides after-school and summer programs for more than 27,000 youths in grades K-12.

Each of the 13 branches in the Valley nominated a member to compete for the Youth of the Year Award.

To prepare for the gala, the teens participated in a 16-week program that included team building, relationship and leadership development, presentation skills and Toastmasters training.

For information, visit bgcmp.org.


Glenn Gullickson can be reached at ggullickson@westvalleyview.com.

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