Celebrating Teen Leadership and Achievement Across Portland: Youth of the Year

Just a few weeks ago, Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland (BGCP) held its annual Youth of the Year (YOY) Celebration, where youth across the city are nominated for outstanding character and leadership. A panel of judges chose one teen, Teya Shearer, to represent the organization at a state-level event. If she is selected among the top in the state, Teya may go all the way to a national Boys & Girls Clubs of America event.

A Portland-native and longtime ‘Club kid’ at the Regence Boys & Girls Club in North Portland, Teya is currently a junior attending Benson Polytechnical High School. She has goals of attending Occidental College and becoming a medical doctor. Regence Club staff describe Teya as kind, determined, and committed to her engagement in the Club as well as her service to her community. Her speech given during the event not only reflected those sentiments, but succeeded in winning the judges over as well.

Teya (left) with the other YOY candidates and panel of judges.  Photo Credit: BGCP

Teya (left) with the other YOY candidates and panel of judges. Photo Credit: BGCP

In her speech, Teya detailed growing up at Regence both physically and, most importantly, personally. She attributed much of her personal growth to how Regence, and the people she met through the Club, impacted her. Teya also spoke about her personal identity and how that has affected not only her walk in life, but also her hopes for the future.

The future she depicted promotes a drive for diversity, inclusion, acceptance and equity.

During my final weeks as a fellow, I am providing support to Teya as she prepares to go to the state-level event. This includes helping with scheduling, supporting her as she completes her application, and proofreading of her essays. Working with Teya on these next steps provides additional aid for her, insight into the YOY process, and ideas on how to improve for the future.

As Teya advances in the Youth of the Year process, Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland is looking for more ways to improve its own programming around YOY to reach more driven young people such as Teya. The goal is to have a more consistent and sustainable program that is able to provide even better support for participants to come. My role as a fellow is part of making that happen. The tools, resources, and workbooks that I create serves as a solid foundation of the revamping and expansion of a worthwhile program that celebrates young people in Portland. Having a better program means being able to elevate more young leaders of varying personalities, backgrounds, and goals within the Club and community.