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Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Teen Center names Youth of the Year

By Pamela Jackson | | April 5, 2012

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Keyanna Seide, a 10th grade student at Westover High School, Albany, Ga., has been selected as the Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany Youth/Teen Center Youth of the Year for the second year in a row.

“The Youth of the Year is a national Boys and Girls Clubs of America program that promotes and highlights service to club, community and family and is based on academic success, strong moral character, life goals, leadership roles at school, poise and public speaking ability,” Michelle Ramos, director, MCLB Albany Youth/Teen Center, said. “Keyanna is our most active member and participates in all programs within her age group.”

Ramos noted the competition is open to club members, ages 14 to 18, and the selection committee looks for a teen who is well-rounded and has benefited from the programs that the club provides and can be an advocate.

“When I started coming to the Youth and Teen Center five years ago I didn’t really fit in,” Seide said. “I didn’t want to be here. I was not as nice as I should have been. I didn’t have respect for adults, but now they have become my family. I have learned so much and I look forward to coming every day.”

The 16-year-old said her favorite parts of the teen center are participating in the college campus visits and programs like Smart Girls, Money Matters, Healthy Habits and Career Launch, which taught her how to conduct a job interview and complete an application, enabling her to get a summer job at the center last year.

Seide said she feels like the club has become a family for her because the staff really cares and it’s not just a job for them.

“(It’s) a really big deal to me for someone to listen to my problems and give their input (because) there have been many days where I’ve come to the staff with sad story and walked away with a smile,” she said. “It’s not just one of the staff members, but all of them. They have my trust and love because all of them show me trust and love. Not only do (the staff) care for me, but they have taught me about responsibility and helping others. I also love the great opportunities that have been given to me like the summer teen work program and the chance to represent them as the Youth of the Year.”

Ronnie Jenkins, regional service director, Boys and Girls Club of America, said the 2012 Georgia Youth of the Year program included 31 local organizational winners representing the state’s 160 clubs and more than 110,000 youth members.

“Keyanna Seide, the Albany Youth/Teen Center Youth of the Year, represented her military community gracefully and with great pride,” he said. “Both she and her staff leader, Michelle Ramos, a former BGC Alumni, are world class examples of the excellent work being done by the Marine Corps youth centers throughout America and abroad.”

Ramos said Seide is a great help to the staff at the teen center and whenever they have special activities or events, she helps out in the kitchen or with the activities. “For the past two summers, she has participated in the teen work program funded by the Georgia Department of Human Services,” Ramos said. “The programs we offer here have really given Keyanna a great opportunity to mature and a sense of responsibility, which has been positive on both ends, for us and for her.”

Ramos also noted Youth of the Year members are first selected on the local level then compete in the state competition, which consists of a three-minute speech and individual interviews. The winner of the state competition will also compete in the regional and national competitions.

Seide recently competed in the state competition for the Boys and Girls Club of America 2012 Georgia Youth of the Year in Atlanta, Ga. More than 30 youth from around the state competed for the coveted title.

“Although Keyanna did not win the state level of the competition, it was a great learning opportunity for her and she represented the MCLB Albany Youth/Teen Center with a high level of maturity and poise,” Ramos said.

During the trip to Atlanta, accompanied by Ramos, Seide attended an Atlanta Hawks basketball game where she participated in the pre-game kids tunnel activities, attended a legislative breakfast, and a meet and greet with Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle at the Georgia State Capitol.

Seide said she has learned and gained a lot from the Youth and Teen Center here. “I carry all the memories and things I have learned with me, such as how to be a good leader, help others, communicate and be an overall great person,” she said. “Because of them, I am able to go out into the world and handle myself based on everything being in the club has taught me.”


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