Hard work and determination pays off, just ask Union League Boys & Girls Clubs member, Tiana Jackson. Jackson has been selected to represent Illinois in the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Youth of the Year for their upcoming Midwest Regional Competition. She makes history as the Union League Boys & Girls Clubs first state winner since the competition started 73 years ago.
Jackson represented the Union League Boys & Girls Clubs by reading her compelling speech on how the nonprofit has impacted her life especially giving her confidence, as she has alopecia, an autoimmune disease which causes the body to attack hair follicles resulting in hair loss. According to Jackson in her speech, “Surrounded by peers who didn’t fully understand my condition, I struggled to rediscover my confidence. Alopecia refused to let me abide by the beauty standards teenage girls constantly strive for. When the stares continued, and the questions never ended. I decided, if I had their attention, why not use it to do something valuable? I was able to do this because my Boys & Girls Club has made me a go-getter.”
Jackson began officially attending the Union League Boys & Girls Club- Barreto Club location when she was six years-old. The Barreto Club serves the Humboldt Park community. She has been a Barreto Club member for the past 11 years. Throughout her time as a member, she participated in many programs including Power Hour, SmartGirls, Science Club, Torch Club, etiquette classes, and Keystone. She also worked at the Union League Boys & Girls Clubs Camp in Wisconsin as a Counselor in Training and a Leader in Training. Tiana is currently a high school senior at Pritzker College Prep and has many hobbies, but her favorites are photography and sports. She has accumulated 150 service hours to date and dreams of pursuing a career in law. Her accomplished older sister Taylor Jackson was the 2017 Youth of the Year for the Union League Boys & Girls Clubs and also competed at the state level.
This is the first year the state competition was ever virtual due to COVID-19 and was hosted by Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington-Normal. Jackson won a $2,500 scholarship in that competition and will next proceed to represent Illinois in the Midwest competition to be held at a future date.
“Tiana exemplifies every aspect of what the Union League Boys & Girls Clubs hopes to produce through our programs,” said Stacy Fleming, Youth of the Year event chair for the Union League Boys & Girls Clubs and officer for the nonprofit. “Tiana has worked hard to get past her struggles to be in a place where she can help others and be a role model within her community.”
Jackson is the student body president and a senior at Pritzker College Prep and will attend the highly-selective Claremont McKenna College followed by law school. Since 1947, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Youth of the Year recognition is the highest honor a Club member can achieve. The Youth of the Year program celebrates youth who have overcome enormous odds and demonstrated exceptional character and accomplishments. Beginning at the club-level (where Tiana competed against three other highly-accomplished fellow Club members) and continuing through the state and regional competitions, Boys & Girls Club members compete for Youth of the Year honors. The five regional winners will meet in our nation’s capital this Fall where they will compete for the National Youth of the Year title.