I’ve always loved the arts. Singing is my passion. But I never realized I could turn what I love into a career until the Boys & Girls Club opened my mind to how much I could do with my future.
I started attending the Boys & Girls Club on the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in middle school. It has changed my life in every conceivable way. During high school, my Club took us on a trip to Clemson University where I learned about STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics). It was my first time on a college campus and a plane. It was also the first time I realized that going to college could translate my passion for the arts into a career — and that I shouldn't be scared to pursue it.
Unlike most kids my age, I've never gone to a traditional school. I was homeschooled and attended an online school my entire life. That means I've never presented a report to my peers at the front of the classroom, worked on a group project, rode a bus, or eaten lunch in a noisy cafeteria with lots of friends. The Boys & Girls Club became my school. The Club is where I learned how to interact and socialize with others, where I met people with different perspectives and learned how to break down stereotypes, and where I've developed the skills that have prepared me for college and the future.
From First Job to On-the-Job Skills
The Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base was hiring teens for the summer to help with childcare for their younger members. My Boys & Girls Club hosted an interview and resume workshop where they helped me write my resume and prepare for the interview. The Base hired me to work with 2- and 3-year-olds — my first job! The Club gave me that first experience, and their support with resume writing and interviewing has since helped me secure other jobs.
As I reflect on what I've learned during my time at the Club that has most prepared me for college, a career and life, three things stand out most:
- Collaboration: Because I attend an online school, I don't work with people in person. Although we have virtual meetings, I'd never collaborated with so many diverse people before attending the Club. One of the most important skills I've learned at the Club is collaboration and how to work with people across many age groups. I appreciate that I've learned how to collaborate in a safe space where making mistakes — and learning from them — is okay.
- Networking: The Club is where I've developed my ability to network. I was timid before coming to the Club, but my mentors have encouraged me to meet people, make connections and network — because you never know who you may be able to help or who may help you. The Club has taught me not to be afraid to show others my unique talents and skills.
- Resilience: I've learned how to be resilient at the Club. During COVID-19, especially when it seemed like many doors were closing, I was able to focus on the doors I could open and new paths to solve problems. During the pandemic, I worked at one of our public libraries to coordinate a bookend decorating project that allowed our teens to safely see each other with school closed. The Club instilled in me the importance of hard work, dedication and moving past obstacles, no matter how hard they seem.
Great Performers Start Here
Thanks to support from the Club, I was able to take college courses while in high school and am graduating with both my high school diploma and associate degree. I will start college at Jacksonville University in the fall to pursue a bachelor's of fine arts in musical theater. I hope to do additional vocal training and go on a national musical theater tour.
My Club mentor Ms. Maria has a family, a career and is a role model to me for what my life could look like. I'm excited to start my future, and I know it is brighter because of my time at the Boys & Girls Club.
Make Great Futures Possible for More Kids Like Sommer
There are many ways to define a great future. For some, it's the first to go to college. For others, it's starting a business, running a nonprofit, protecting our country or performing on stage like Sommer. But today, an overwhelming number of employers say young people are not ready for the workforce, lacking essential character skills, like judgment, problem-solving, creativity and adaptability.
See how Boys & Girls Clubs are helping more kids like Sommer explore their passions and interests, develop employability skills, and apply knowledge in real-world settings so they can become anything they can dream.
Did you know that 1 in 16 people living in America has been a member of a Boys & Girls Club like new alumna Sommer? If you’ve ever been a Club kid, join our free alumni community to connect to ongoing opportunities, events and each other. Learn more and become part of the Club after the Club.