This post is part of a “Where Are They Now” series highlighting Youth of the Year winners who have gone on to become the leaders, innovators, and problem-solvers who now shape our world.
Club Alum: Maryah S., 2014 National Youth of the Year
Hometown Club: Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida
Tell us some highlights of your past year.
In the past year, I graduated from college, began my career in information technology and got married!
What was your college major, and what is your current career path?
I majored in Information Studies, with a concentration in Information Science and Technology, at the University of South Florida. During college, I served as an intern at Tupperware Brands Corporation, which was an opportunity I received after being named 2014 National Youth of the Year. Through hard work and utilizing the job and career readiness skills I learned at the Boys & Girls Club, I was able to obtain a full-time position as an IT Systems Analyst at Tupperware after graduation.
Beyond my daily job responsibilities, I am the president of Tupperware’s African Ancestry Associate Resource Group. I get to lead associates of all levels and from all departments to create a more diverse company through community involvement and associate awareness.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned since your time in the Club?
One valuable lesson I’ve learned is the importance of making connections and maintaining relationships. Every day, I am surrounded by a network of people that willingly share their time, advice and resources with me so that I can reach my full potential.
Another lesson I’ve learned is that there is no such thing as losing. I either win or I learn. This helps to keep me motivated when life gets hard.
In your opinion what are the biggest challenges kids face today?
Many young people aren’t taught how to develop and maintain meaningful relationships, which is critical to building your network. It’s also challenging for them to see beyond their current circumstances and dream bigger. They don’t know what options are available or how to find the support and resources needed to develop a plan for school and career.
I think financial education is super important as well. Not understanding how to save for a home, build your credit or obtain a loan can lead to financial problems.
Do you have any personal stories of how the Club positively impacted your life?
The Club introduced me to the Youth of the Year program, and as the National Youth of the Year winner I received a scholarship that allowed me to attend college without financial stress. As a first-generation college student, I initially felt lost navigating the college application process, but Club staff and mentors stepped in to help.
The Club also taught me how to be a leader. When I first joined, I was a very shy kid. My mentors saw leadership qualities in me and began to present me with opportunities that developed those skills. Being the President of the Torch Club and Keystone Club gave me the confidence I needed to pursue similar roles in my adulthood.
What’s next for you?
There’s a lot I’d like to accomplish in the next five years, including becoming an IT Project Manager and starting my own nonprofit.
I have always envisioned creating a platform, called Link, that inspires young people to cultivate relationships, walk in authenticity and define their version of success. Link will focus on both personal and professional development. I hope to host workshops, an annual networking event and even author a workbook.
Youth of the Year is Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier youth leadership program, honoring extraordinary young people and their achievements in leadership, service, academic excellence and leading a healthy lifestyle. On September 25, 2019, six finalists will be celebrated as the nation’s most inspiring teens, and one outstanding Club member will be selected as the National Youth of the Year. Learn more at BGCA.org/YOY.