Club teen Alejandra aspires to help each member of her community be happy, healthy and financially secure. Her local Boys & Girls Club is where she gained the inspiration and confidence to follow her dreams in civic leadership.

From Shy Start to Community Leader: Alejandra’s Story

Alejandra at graduation

For most of my life, it’s been just me and my mom. I am so thankful for how hard she’s worked to provide for me. Through everything we’ve experienced — the good times and the tough times — Mom has always had my back. Because of her love, protection and support, I’ve been able to focus on my education and use it as a stepping-stone to give us both a better life.

My mom, my state and my Boys & Girls Club have all shaped my career aspirations. For one, I’m a first-generation Mexican American, and watching my mom navigate immigration and citizenship inspires me to deepen my knowledge of accounting and taxes, naturalization, and the services and support immigrants need to obtain citizenship and financial security in this country.  

Initially I was inspired to study accounting in college. My mom’s accountant helps her navigate finances in America — seeing her work made me interested in helping people in this way. I also have a personal goal of saving up to buy a home for my mom and me, where understanding accounting would come in handy. 

However, through my membership at Boys & Girls Clubs of McAllen I began taking on leadership roles. In these positions working in our Texas community, I’ve decided that going into public policy will allow me to help my community on a larger scale. 

Serving My Community & Aspiring to Become a Policymaker 

My community is McAllen, a fast-growing town in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley where nearly a third of the population is born in other countries and we experience high poverty rates – recently we’ve been making headlines for being one of the poorest cities in the U.S.

As Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s 2023-24 Southwest Youth of the Year, part of my role is being a teen spokesperson for kids in my region. I recently visited our state’s capital to advocate on behalf of kids and teens, and had the opportunity to meet and speak to our senators and representatives. These people shape conditions for the people in my community and their decisions can create important change. This experience made me want to become a policymaker.  

Alejandra and 2022 winners at Southwest Youth of the Year

Representation is important to me, and I hope one day that state leadership represents the full spectrum of Texas communities – communities like mine. There is so much need in McAllen from basic necessities like toothbrushes and toiletries to critical care including mental health resources.  

I’d like to create and change policies to make sure communities like mine throughout Texas and the United States have food, housing, healthcare and opportunities they need to live the lives they envision. I would like to pursue a career on the financial side of policy because I understand that it takes a lot of money to fund community initiatives.  

I also know that becoming a policymaker requires extensive experience but I believe I’m on the right path to eventually do great work for Texas' state government and the federal government. I’m getting my start through school politics and community service.

Throughout middle and high school, my service on the student council gave me insights on how my leadership and the decisions I made impacted the student community at my school. Having served as class treasurer and now student body president, it’s been my responsibility to manage thousands of dollars in our class financial accounts, budget for events and arrange such activities as sports games, pep rallies, dances and fundraisers.

Combined with the community volunteering I’ve done with such organizations such as Business Professionals of America and my Boys & Girls Club, all of these experiences have given me a sense of meaning and purpose while allowing me to serve others.  

Helping others is especially important to me because I know how much I have benefited from my family’s support as well as the care and compassion I’ve received at my local Club.


From Shy First Days to Leading Club Activities

I first joined my Club at age seven, and I’ve been an active member since day one. Back then though, I was a shy, sensitive child who remained glued to my mother and felt anxious anytime I was away from her. But the staff at my Club gave me comfort in expressing myself and validated how I felt when I talked about situations that made me feel hurt, scared or vulnerable. 

During my summers, I was at my Club just about every day making new friends with kids from other schools and cities as we participated in all kinds of activities. From soaking in the sun at the pool to preparing treats in my “Little Chefs” class to banging on drums in music class, there were so many different fun and interesting things to do.  

In my teen years, one of my first jobs was working as part of the Club’s Junior Staff — Club kid turned Club employee, I loved learning the leadership and facilitation side of all the activities I’d enjoyed as a child. My fingers turned pink and blue from all the slime we made. I learned the exact steps to making a synthetic volcano by heart. I worked up a sweat exercising with the kids in the “Get Fit” class. I stained my favorite pair of leggings while painting a mural at a public park. I’ve prepared meals and washed cars for fundraisers. Above all, I was given the chance to be the same supportive figure to younger kids as Club staff had been to me.

Alejandra and a mentor
Whenever younger Club members have been hungry, scared, hurt or trying to locate something they’ve lost, I’ve empathized with them and helped them get through whatever challenge they’ve faced. I know very well how overwhelming first-time experiences can be and I know how frightening it is to be away from a parent.  

It feels good to sit with my fellow Club kids and let them know that everything is going to be okay. It feels good to offer activities to help put their minds at ease. It feels good to know that I’m offering the same care and acceptance that was given to me.  

I have such faith and courage in my future because I have already seen some of my wildest dreams come true. I never thought I’d come to represent kids and teens throughout Texas and the Southwest but here I am. I know now that with the right support, anything and everything is possible.  

Having a place to belong and someone who believes in you can have a powerful impact. Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Youth of the Year are a shining example of this and exemplify what it means to be a Boys & Girls Club kid. The Youth of the Year program wouldn’t be possible without Signature Sponsors Kohl’s & Toyota, and Marquee Sponsor Mondelez International, who share a dedication to providing better tomorrows for young people. Learn more about Alejandra L. and the Youth of the Year program and join us in opening doors to great futures for millions of youth.


Ignite the Potential of Tomorrow’s Leaders & Change-makers

Boys & Girls Clubs of America provides caring adult mentors and life-shaping programs to millions of kids and teens each year. In safe, inclusive places, youth build the skills and resilience to thrive in school, the workplace and in life. Join us on our mission of helping all young people reach their full potential:

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