One Rio Grande Valley student hopes to impact her community as a future leader and advocate.
The process to be selected for the honor is quite rigorous and competitive.
“Seven Youth of the Year candidates competed to become the 2020 Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV Youth of the Year,” said Adriana Rendon, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV. “Nominees complete a packet detailing their club service, school, and community involvement. The packet includes essays, school transcripts, and letters of recommendation, and then candidates deliver a three-minute speech on the topic ‘What the Club Means to Me’ in front of a panel of five to seven judges made up of local community leaders.”
This year, 16-year-old Daniela Rivera, a junior at IDEA College Prep, was chosen as the winner of the title for BGC of Edinburg. Rendon explains that Rivera was recognized “for her sound character, leadership skills, and willingness to give back to the community.”
Rivera has given back to her community and her Club through a number of volunteer programs as well as helpful initiatives that serve those in need. In her community, she shows compassion by regularly volunteering at food banks and nursing homes, and she is also passionate about helping her peers who may be struggling.
“She started Care Closet, an initiative that is specifically geared toward having readily available hygiene items for those youth and teens who need them and may not have access,” Rendon said. Within the Club, Rivera has served as a mentor for younger club members for three summers in a row, and she volunteers on a regular basis to help out with programs and initiatives for current members.
When Rivera first became a member at Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV almost 10 years ago, she lacked confidence while using English. Partially due to her involvement with the Club, she feels much more comfortable using her second language and now has the desire to be a voice for those in her community.
“They are my second family,” Rivera said of the Club. “They have been there for me for almost 10 years, and I’ve grown close to the staff and programs provided here. I feel safe coming here. They have given me so many great memories, and I’ve created lasting friendships here. The Club has really given me the opportunity to share my voice locally and even nationally.”
Rivera has big plans for the future.
“I plan on becoming a lawyer and coming back to my community and my club to impact programs that affect child education and nutrition in my local area,” she said. “I hope to continue to share my story so that my peers invest in their community to make a change and a real difference. I hope to be a leader that continues to be passionate about improving local issues.”
Rendon added that one thing that stood out for her about Rivera’s application is that “naturally, she is very a passionate advocate for the Club and how it has impacted her. That really resonated when she went in front of the judges. We are so proud of her and have no doubt that she will continue to do great things in her future.”
Rivera will represent Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV in Austin from March 22 through March 24 to compete for Youth of the Year at the State level.
Every year since the 1960s, Boys & Girls Clubs of America across the nation select one outstanding student as the Youth of the Year. This award is the highest honor that members of the Club can achieve. The Youth of the Year program was established thanks to the Reader’s Digest Foundation more than 60 years ago. The title is designated based on a student’s considerable contributions to their community, school, family, and their Boys & Girls Club. The award also takes special notice of significant personal hurdles that the student has been able to overcome in their lives.