Youth of Year honored by Boys and Girls Club

Published 8:17 pm Monday, February 25, 2013

Not that long ago, Yahira Carlisle walked in to the Boys and Girls Club of Pike and Surrounding Counties looking to be a member, and now she hopes to take the club all the way to the President Barack Obama’s dining room table.

Carlisle was recently selected at the Youth of the Year for the local Boys and Girls Club.

“It is very exciting,” said Carlisle. “I am very honored that I am able to be in a Youth of the Year Program and have a person like Ms. [Pamela] Nealey in my life. To have her support and belief in me is huge. It means so much to me.”

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Carlisle, a freshman nursing major at Troy University, said that she has a passion for learning and finds joy in helping children understand the value of a quality education.

“Once I saw the different programs, I realized that I wanted to help change kid’s lives through education and tutoring,” Carlisle said. “I want to help them understand that education is important. My mother was there for me when I was younger, but I really didn’t have a person to instill the importance of an education. Working hard in school and doing well on class work can help take you to another level outside of Troy.”

Along with a $10,000 scholarship, the winner of the regional competition in Atlanta is invited to Washington, D.C. to have breakfast with the president and be recognized at a ceremony. In addition, the overall national winner will receive a $50,000 scholarship.

Carlisle said that meeting President Obama would be a once in a lifetime opportunity, and is trying to make it a reality.

“I would be so happy,” said Carlisle. “I can’t even explain how fantastic it would be to meet the President. It would be a life-changing experience, and I am working on getting there. I don’t want to say that I am going to go, but I tell myself that, so I know to keep working hard.”

Pamela Nealey, Chief Professional Office of the Boys and Girls Club of Pike and Surrounding Counties, said that Carlisle is a great staff member and mentor.

“This is a newer Boys and Girls Club, and this is a large honor,” said Nealey. “Yahira is very humble. She works with second and third-graders, and they are the best homework class in the building.”

Nealey said that Carlisle has instilled the value of an education in the younger children.

“We were short staffed one day, so I had to go between the second and third-grade room and the fifth-graders in order to keep things organized,” Nealey said.” The fifth-graders were out of control, so I ended up staying in that room a few minutes longer than I wanted to. I was dreading going to the other room, but when I arrived I received a surprise. The little kids were sitting down, and doing their homework. That is a sign of a great staff person.”

Carlisle is grateful for the Boys and Girls Club, and said that a change in majors could be coming. She wants to use her passion for education and children.

Carlisle is also thankful for the Club and its staff members.

“The Boys and Girls Club is a positive place to be,” said Carlisle. The staff is great, and they help mentor me and give me tips and advice when I ask for it. We also teach respect for others and yourself, and try to give children a helping hand on the education.”

Carlisle will compete in the state Youth of the Year contest next week in Dothan. From their she could move on to regionals.