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.
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.
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.
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.
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: