When I was 14, I spent a lot of time with some girls who I thought were my best friends. They were smart and got straight As — I was in awe of them and how effortless they made it all seem. For me, school was an uphill battle. I have attention deficit disorder (ADD), so staying focused in the classroom and retaining information was a constant struggle. I had to work twice as hard to succeed half as much as these girls. I wanted to be just like them.
You can imagine my devastation when I realized they didn’t care as much about me as I did about them. Those girls made me feel like I wasn’t good enough, like I had to prove myself over and over again to be included. I was already painfully shy and unsure of myself; how they treated me took a toll on my self-esteem.
A Critical Turning Point
Around this time, I was an active participant in the Young Achievers program at the San Antonio Boys & Girls Club. The program is primarily for eighth graders to help develop new skills, prepare for high school, learn more about college and explore pathways for the future. When I first became involved, I thought this would just be another youth motivational program — something I could check off the list and move on. But Young Achievers was special. It changed me. The community I became a part of, the mentors who entered my life, and the love and support I received through this Boys & Girls Club program awakened confidence in me that hadn’t existed before.
Through Young Achievers, I met people like Mr. Rockett, the director of the Young Achievers program. He took the time to work with me one-on-one to improve my communication skills, prepare for college interviews and write application essays. His constructive criticism and insistence that I never give up on myself helped me realize that having to work harder to succeed is valuable and something to feel proud of, not ashamed of and daunted by.
I also met other Boys & Girls Club members facing personal challenges and providing support and encouragement to each other. I’m still connected with some of them today, more than four years later.
A Life-Changing Realization
My experiences in the Young Achievers program helped me recognize my strengths and not give up on something or assume I can’t achieve it just because it is more challenging for me. I found opportunities to truly shine — I realized I don’t need to be flawless; I just need to be me. I also learned that true friends wouldn’t make me feel like I need to change who I am to be valued.
My mom is a high school nurse. I admire how hard she works and how dedicated she has been to me and my twin sisters’ futures our whole lives. In discovering my strengths, I also realized that what I admire about my mother is ingrained in me. She has always been this constant driving force nudging me to get out there and explore different interests and give my best effort, even when something seems impossible. If it weren’t for her, I might never have had the courage to get involved in robotics and engineering (my passions and my planned career path), and I certainly would never have seen myself as part of the Young Achievers program.
As I start college at Texas A&M University, I know there are still challenges to face and hurdles to clear to find my great future. But thanks to the Young Achievers program, the Boys & Girls Club and my amazing mom, I now have the self-confidence to meet those challenges head-on. I’m excited for what my future holds and so grateful for the people in my life who keep urging me forward.
Give More Girls a Great Future
Every girl deserves to believe in herself and reach her full potential. Your donation to Boys & Girls Clubs of America will provide girls facing challenging life circumstances with positive adult influences and life-changing programs to achieve their great futures. In honor of International Day of the Girl, the Dove Self-Esteem Project will match all donations made to Boys & Girls Clubs of America through Monday, October 11, 2021, up to $10,000, to provide meals, academic support and self-esteem boosting programs to help give more girls a great future.