South Haven Girl Named Finalist

Written by admin. Posted in Cover Story

Published on July 21, 2010 with No Comments

Sometimes the number 13 proves lucky.

This summer, Dawn Williams, 17, representing the South Haven Boys and Girls Club, was named one of 13 regional finalists in the Boys and Girls Clubs national Youth of the Year competition, making her the highest-placing Porter County club member in the 63-year-old national event.

Five winners from five regions go on to vie for the Youth of the Year title. Williams will be a senior this year at Portage High School.

Open to ages 5-17,  the Boys and Girls Clubs help members become community-oriented, responsible adults through educational opportunities ranging from sports and games to tutoring services and computer access.

The Youth of the Year competition includes scholarship money, speeches, group-oriented activities and other tests of leadership, cooperation and community spirit.

“I think the whole thing was an awesome experience,” Williams said after she’d returned from the finals. “I had a great time, met a lot of people, and learned a lot of new things while I was at the finals.”

“We’re extremely proud of her,” said Megan Klinek, the South Haven club’s program director.  “She’s a great help here and definitely deserves it.  She’s a great representative of all the clubs and of the state.”

Williams first had to get a sponsor from her local club. Then the competition moved to a county level (where Williams had to compete against Portage, Valpo, and other Boys and Girls clubs in Porter County). After the county representatives are decided,  they competed on the state level, which Williams won. Then on to regional competition.  The regional representatives are named as finalists, then winnowed further down to five to compete for the top national title.

“It’s a lot like going through a lot of interviews for a job,” Williams said. “At each competition level we had to go through an interview process and answer a lot of different questions. I was asked about myself and my experiences, and at certain points I had to give speeches.”

Final judging for the regional Youth of the Year finalists was a four-day long process. Finalists were taken through their interviews, then had to perform problem-solving activities to showcase both cooperation and leadership skills. All finalists were also rewarded for their efforts that got them to the end of the competition.

“I received a $1,000 scholarship,” Williams said. “We also got to go shopping for interviewing clothes, and we each received a backpack full of complementary necessities. Everything was donated by supporters of the Boys and Girls Club for the finalists.”

Williams, who’s been a member of the Boys and Girls Club for 12 years, says, if nothing else, she’s learned a lot about interviewing and public speaking throughout this competition. Before she applied, Williams described herself as outgoing, but rather shy when it came to being the center of attention and public speaking. After all the activities and interviews that Williams went through, she’s become much more comfortable with the whole process.

“I’m sure that this experience is going to come in very handy for college, and for when I need to get a job,” Williams said, reflecting on her experience as a finalist. Williams intends to become a movement and sport sciences major, and hopes to attend Purdue University.

For those who are interested in becoming future Youth of the Year competitors, you simply need to be a member of the Boys and Girls Club, and you have to apply at your local club for a  sponsor. If there are multiple candidates, then the interviewing and decision-making process begins locally, as each club can only sponsor one member.

“There’s also no rules that say you can’t try more than one year,” Williams said. “If you don’t get sponsored one year, you can try again next time. If you do get sponsored, and even if you win, you can still re-apply to go back the next year.”

For more information on the Boys and Girls Club of Porter County and the Youth of the Year Award, call Ron Ranta at  759-2565.

Share This Article

About admin

Browse Archived Articles by

No Comments

Comments for South Haven Girl Named Finalist are now closed.