2021-22 Southwest Youth of the Year
Club/Organization: Boys & Girls Clubs of Harlingen
Length of Membership: 9 years
College: University of Texas at Austin
Career Interest: Pre-Law
Defining Characteristics: Passionate, Self-Driven
“Help someone and walk forward together.”
Every young person, like Zena, deserves a safe, positive environment in which to learn and grow.
After her first day at the Boys & Girls Club, Zena said she was never going back. “Biggest lie I ever told myself,” she admits now, nine years into her membership. Zena found a community in her Club – a community that believed in her, and one she could give back to.
After experiencing physical and emotional abuse as a child, Zena thrived in the positive and accepting Club environment. Encouraged to take on leadership opportunities, she threw herself into Club activities, going on to be president of her Keystone/Torch Club. After representing the Club at a city commission meeting, Zena discovered a love for public speaking. Her favorite event is the Club’s Thanksgiving Day dinner, where she and her peers serve a meal to the community.
Zena is a dedicated advocate of youth mental health and plans to establish solutions to combat child abuse and neglect, including shelter and counseling facilities. “There are so many kids out there drowning in anger, sadness and misery. I used to be that kid,” says Zena. Now, she aims to be part of changing their outlook on life and supporting them in recognizing their potential.