ATLANTA, July 19, 2012 – Last night, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) named Mai Tong Yang, 18, an 11-year member of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities, the 2012-13 Midwest Region Youth of the Year. She receives a total of $11,000 in college scholarships from the Youth of the Year program’s national sponsor Tupperware Brands Corporation. Yang was chosen from 12 candidates within BGCA’s Midwest region and will compete for the national title in Washington, D.C. in September.
Yang and her fellow Youth of the Year candidates were honored at BGCA’s Annual Midwest Region Youth of the Year Celebration held at the World of Whirlpool in Chicago last evening. Prior to the event, the finalists were treated to a two-day experience in Chicago, which included an etiquette dinner at Ernst & Young and a Blue Man Group performance. Each finalist received a $1,000 college scholarship from Tupperware and $400 in gift cards from jcpenney. As the regional winner, Yang also received an additional $500 jcpenney gift card to help prepare her wardrobe for the National Youth of the Year competition.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Youth of the Year recognition is the highest honor a Club member can achieve. The Youth of the Year program, founded in 1947, celebrates youth who have overcome enormous odds and demonstrated exceptional character and accomplishments. These deserving young people are recognized for service to their Club and community, academic performance and contributions to their family.
The middle child in a family of 11, Yang came to the United States as a refugee. Amid the new surroundings, the different lifestyle and the upheaval of the long journey, Yang sometimes felt lost. All that changed when she entered the door of the Boys & Girls Club and found a place that she could call her own. Yang immediately connected with Club staff members who helped her with homework and took the time to introduce her to American culture.
Over the years, Yang has taken a lead role in helping others feel at home. She is a strong mentor to younger Club members. Yang also assists with the Power Hour homework help program and is currently president of Keystone Club. She serves as junior staff member through the Club’s affiliation with the Minnesota State Youth Job Corp program. This position allows her to help out with her family’s expenses.
Yang spent her junior year of high school in South Korea learning about the culture and language. While there, she became an unofficial student ambassador, sharing details about her life in America, her Hmong culture, and even the Minnesota winters. This intercultural experience should prove valuable later in life, as her career goal is to serve as a diplomat. She recently graduated from Harding High School in St. Paul, taking challenging International Baccalaureate courses and maintaining a 3.61 GPA. Yang plans to attend the College of St. Benedict and major in International Relations.
As the Midwest Region Youth of the Year, Yang and four other regional winners will have a chance to meet with President Barack H. Obama in the White House Oval Office in September. If named the 2012-13 National Youth of the Year, she will receive an additional $50,000 scholarship from The Rick and Susan Goings Foundation.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of AmericaFor more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (GreatFutures.org) has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, nearly 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs serve some 4 million children and teens through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native American lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. Clubs provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun and friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Priority programs emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 57 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more at bgca.org/facebook and bgca.org/twitter.
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