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Toni Deveridge named Alabama’s Exchange Club Youth of the Year

Features Editor

Being the Exchange Club Youth of the Year for the state of Alabama sounds great to Toni Deveridge.

"It’s the best thing I’ve done," Toni said with a big smile. "It really is."

That really says a lot because Toni has a basket full of awards and recognitions to her credit. To single out one as "the best" is an indication of what the award means to her.

The award was presented June 1 at the state convention of Exchange Clubs in Birmingham and it came as quite a surprise to Toni.

She had no idea that she was the winner until the presenter stated the state award winner was a finalist in the Coca-Cola Scholarship competition.

"I thought, ‘That sounds like me,’ but I didn’t

smile because I wasn’t sure."

But, when they called Toni’s name she couldn’t hide her exhilaration.

"I want to thank the Troy Exchange Club for selecting me as their Youth of the Year and giving me the opportunity. To be the Alabama Youth of the Year is just the greatest thing."

Dan Smith, chairman of the Troy Exchange Club’s Youth of the Year program, said the state chairperson told him that Toni’s essay, her accomplishments and her involvement were all head and shoulders above the rest.

"It was not contest. Toni just blew them away," Smith said. "Toni will now be entered in the national finals along with finalists from the other states. One national winner will be selected and we feel Toni is certainly deserving of that high honor."

Toni is a 2002 graduate of Goshen High School, but because she participated in the Global Studies program in high school, she entered Troy State University Monday as a sophomore and she entered as one of Pike County’s most academically decorated seniors ever.

She also entered with great expectations – hers and those of others.

"I know a lot of people expect a lot of me and I expect a lot of myself," Toni said.

However, Toni said she’s not putting undue pressure on herself. She plans to make her studies her priority, but she also wants to have a well-rounded college life.

Neither Toni nor her mother Joyce has a magic formula that can motivate students to be the best they can be and do the best they can in school.

Mrs.Deveridge never put pressure to rise to the top of her class and Toni doesn’t think she put that kind of pressure on herself.

"I read to Toni when she was young, but she is really self-motivated," her mother said.

Toni said she had three loves – reading, writing and arguing.

She plans to combine those loves into a career.

"I wanted to have a career where I could use all three of things I enjoy most and so I’m going to be a corporate attorney," she said.

Mrs. Deveridge agreed with her daughter that arguing is one of her strong suits.

"She always has to have the last word," Mrs. Deveridge said, laughing. "I think she will make a good lawyer."

Toni said she plans to get a masters in business administration before going to law school. Then she will go wherever the road of opportunity leads her.

She’s not ruling out politics in her future.

"If Toni wants to be president, she can do it," Smith said. "She can do anything she wants to do. She is a very special young lady with a great future. We are proud to have her represented the Troy Rotary Club and Pike County."