Introducing Our 2021 Youth of the Year & Junior Youth of the Year Candidates

We have our candidates for our 2021 Youth of the Year and Junior Youth of the Year, all hailing from our various Club locations! They are preparing for the competition and virtual celebration on February 25th, practicing their speeches and interview skills with support from their family, friends, Clubs, and mentors. At the end of the evening, we will announce the Youth of the Year candidate (aged 14-18) elected to represent the Union League Boys & Girls Clubs at the regional Boys & Girls Clubs of America competition as well as the winner of our Junior Youth of Year award (for candidates 10-13). These remarkable youth were selected in recognition of their wonderful academic performance and service to Club, community and family.

We are so proud of each and every one of these remarkable youths and their great achievements. It is our honor to be able to introduce them and to share a little bit about their experiences at our Clubs.



Afif is a junior in high school and has attended Club One for 6 years. He has participated in a variety of our Club’s programs, including Building Bridges Through Basketball, Speech Club, Passport to Manhood, SeaPerch, and worked his way up to President of Torch Club. As a Club member, he participated in a 2-week Navy SEAL youth development camp in Virginia, numerous trips to Summer Camp in Wisconsin, and was part of a feature in an Under Amour advertisement video. While participating in our programs, Afif discovered his passion for technology and basketball – he is the captain of his school basketball team and has decided to pursue a career in technology.



Jalissa is a junior in high school and has been a member of our Barreto Clubs for 11 years. Throughout her tenure as a member, she has participated in many programs including Power Hour, SMART Girls, Torch Club, and is president of Barreto’s Keystone Club. She uses her knowledge from all of these programs and offers support to her peers and community.  Her list of hobbies includes Volleyball and knitting/embroidery. Two of her goals are to have true inner peace and to experience a successful college career. She has accumulated 1,030 service hours so far, and plans to do more in the near future. Jalissa endeavors to develop to a career in the medical field. 



Melanie is a senior in high school and has been a member of our Club Two for 4 years. Throughout her time as a member, she has volunteered in summer day camp, after school programs, and various clubs within the chapter including Women of Wells Club, Keystone Club, Power Hour, and the Torch Club. During her free time, some of her hobbies include drawing, meditation, and volunteer work. Melanie has accumulated more than 200 service hours and aspires to become a Nutritionist. 




Jennifer is a senior in high school and has been part of our Clemente Club for 4 years. During that time she has participated in many of our programs such as Power Hour, Career Launch, Keystone, and the Girls Soccer Team. She also joined the Clemente Club staff for the Summer of 2019 through our partnership with One Summer Chicago youth program. Jennifer has helped in various events by organizing and participating in service-learning trips.  She loves to create art and play her favorite instrument, the trombone. 





Valeria is a 6th grader and has been a member of our Club One for 7 years. She has participated in numerous programs including Power Hour, SMART Girls, Science Fair, Hackathon, SeaPerch, IT Entrepreneurship, MyFuture, Google CS First, and 3D Design. She enjoys volunteering and is focused on expanding her own tutoring group, eTutors, which she created at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. For her career goal, Valeria strives to be an IT Engineer. 




Bianca is a 5th grader and has been a member of our Barreto Club for 2 years. She has participated in many programs including Power Hour, Barreto Dance, SMART Girls, Science Club, and Be a Star. She has many hobbies that focus heavily on her creative side, including songwriting and creating choreography to her favorite music. She is excited about her future goals, one of which is to research more COVID friendly outdoor activities to enjoy. Bianca strives to become a world renowned dancer. 




Javier is a 5th grader and has been a member of our Hammond Club for 5 years. He has participated in Passport to Manhood, Torch Club, Triple Play, Power Hour, and STEM programming. He loves coming to the Club because he gets to experience new things, foster his friendships, and meet new people. His hobbies include playing soccer and video games, but he also enjoys a good nap. His goals for the future are to become a wrestler and more active member of his community.




Ariel has been a member of our Nicholson Club for a year. She has participated in our online tutoring as well as the E-Learning portion of our programming. She regularly attends for in-person tutoring at our church locations and is involved with our SMART Girls Virtual program. During her free time, Ariel loves to dance and jump rope. She takes pride in staying active and plans on re-joining the dance team when schools open back up. She has many plans for the future, and wants to continue excelling in school while working towards becoming a nurse or a lawyer. Ariel wants to spend her career giving back and helping people in her community, like the Club has done for her.



Brooklyn is a 6th grader at and has been a member of our Stagg Club for 2 years. She enjoys participating in our programming such as art and Smart Girls, and lending a helping hand when needed. Her favorite subject in school is science. She likes providing support for her peers that experience bullying and assisting in school work. Her hobbies include arts and crafts and making custom furniture for her Barbie’s. Brooklyn strives to attend Harvard University. Her ultimate goal is to become the President of the United States, travel the world, and help as many people as possible.