2018 ARIZONA STATE YOUTH OF THE YEAR

MARENA SEVER

On March 27, Marena Sever from Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale’s Hilton Family Teen Center was named 2018 Arizona State Youth of the Year.

Selected from a field of 8 candidates from Clubs around the state, Marena was awarded a $5,000 scholarship and will go on to compete at the regional level this summer. Regional winners will go on to Washington, D.C., with the chance of being named Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year.

Marena has been a Club Kid for 10 years. At the Thunderbirds Branch, she discovered her love for creative expression and found a second family. Her best advice to today’s youth is, “It is human nature to make mistakes, but being able to learn and recover from them is crucial. View each day as a new learning experience and every mistake made as an opportunity for growth.” She will begin college in the fall, studying political science. Marena aspires to be a political commentator.

“If I hadn’t had the Club, the 8-year-old me would not have turned into the passionate, confident leader I am today. I will always carry with me everything the Club has taught me, which means I will always be a Club kid at heart,” said Marena. She began attending the Thunderbirds Branch ten years ago and speaks of the security and stability she found there that helped her through major transitions in her life.

On an average day at the Club, you can find Marena with a string of younger kids following close behind her as she leads them through various activities. Marena is very involved in theatre programs at the Club and Chaparral High School. She talks about the need for creative arts to be more prevalent in schools.

“Marena is a prime example of the work that Boys & Girls Clubs does, and the kinds of kids who walk out of our doors,” said Dr. Lisa Hurst, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale President and CEO. “Knowing Marena is an honor. Watching her and the other candidates present their stories with such poise and bravery filled me to the brim with joy.”

2018 FINALISTS

WINNIE C.

WINNIE C.

MARY ELLEN & ROBERT MCKEE BRANCH

Winnie has been a Club Kid for 5 years. She values the friendships and relationships she has made at the McKee Branch and credits them with keeping her on the right track. She will always hold her Club kid memories near to her heart. Her advice to today’s youth is, “Don’t hide in the shadows afraid to be yourself, come out in the spotlight ready to shine as the person you are.” Winnie will be the NEXT Fashion Designer.

CARLI D.

CARLI D.

VIRGINIA G. PIPER BRANCH

Carli has been a Club Kid for 5 years. She has truly grown since being at the Piper Branch. Carli is thankful for staff always going above and beyond to make sure she succeeds and has a safe place to land. She wants the next generation to know, “Everyone goes through something, but the people who stand up and face it are the people who accomplish their dreams.” Carli will be the NEXT Car Restoration Mechanic.

JHOSEVETD G.

JHOSEVETD G.

SCOTTSDALE CHARROS BRANCH

Jhosevetd has been a Club Kid for 12 years. At the Club, she can always be herself and uses that confidence to make strides in other areas of her life. To the next generation she says, “Be who you want and use your strength to be confident. Never give up and keep trying to be the real you.” Jhosevetd will be the NEXT Pediatric Surgeon.

NELSON M.

NELSON M.

HARTLEY & RUTH BARKER BRANCH

Nelson has been a Club kid for 12 years. He has always considered the Barker Branch his second home. It is a place of comfort and consistency. His advice to the next generation is, “Being courteous does not take much. When you leave this earth, people will remember one thing about you: how you made them feel. Be loving and open to new things.” Nelson will be the NEXT Arizona State Representative.

JESSICA M.

JESSICA M.

RED MOUNTAIN BRANCH

Jessica has been a Club Kid for 7 years. Jessica has learned valuable life skills in Club programming and is grateful to staff for reminding her how powerful and important she is. Jessica’s advice to kids today is,“To think and be positive. Many people don’t think with a positive mindset, which can have bad consequences. Positivity is the key to happiness.” Jessica will be the NEXT Politician.

MADDIE N.

MADDIE N.

VESTAR BRANCH

Madeline has been a Club Kid for 10 years. Her Vestar family helped teach her the importance of academic success and always celebrates her accomplishments. She wants the next generation to know, “We all have the power to take control of our own lives. Life is what you make of it, so strive for greatness.” Maddie will be the NEXT Engineer.

ADORA W.

ADORA W.

LEHI BRANCH

Adora has been a Club Kid for 5 years. She appreciates staff and mentors who have always been supportive, even dealing with life’s difficulties. To the next generation she says, “Don’t give up hope. Going through this age is really difficult, but if you keep your head up it gets better.” She is thankful for everything the Club has done for her so far. Adora will be the NEXT Registered Nurse.