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Cesar Vargas wins Grand Rapids Youth of the Year title

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Local Union High School senior, Cesar Vargas, won this year's Youth of the Year competition for Grand Rapids. He will be attending the state competition on April 9th and then hopefully onto nationals!
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2011 Youth of the Year Cesar Vargas

2011 Youth of the Year Cesar Vargas

Club members from the Steil and Seidman Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids recently submitted applications for this year’s Youth of the Year scholarship competition. After reviewing applications and holding interviews, this March, Cesar Vargas was named Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids’ 2011 Youth of the Year.

Boys & Girls Club of America’s National Youth of the Year program recognizes the outstanding strength and service demonstrated by Club members across the country. Each Club chooses a Youth of the Year to compete on the state level hoping to continue through to the regional and national level. The five regional winners appear before members of Congress and other dignitaries to celebrate their success. Since the very first National Youth of the Year in 1947, the national winner receives his or her award from the President of the United States before beginning a one-year term as the teen spokesperson for all Boys & Girls Club members.

Cesar is currently a senior at Union High School. During his time at Union, Cesar has been the Varsity Soccer Caption for two consecutive years. In addition, he has been involved with Rotary Interact, Upward Bound, and Student Council. Outside of school, Cesar has served on the Kid’s Food Basket Student Council and been involved with the Steil Boys & Girls Club’s Keystone Club. This fall, Cesar plans to attend either the University of Michigan or Grand Valley State University.

Whether it be helping at home, school, or elsewhere, Cesar is continually setting a good example for those around him through his dedication to volunteering, mentoring, and athletic programs. He understands the importance of giving back to his community in the same way they give to him.

My story has a simple start; I was just another statistic growing up in a neighborhood of low-level achievement and what the future held for me did not matter,” wrote Cesar in one of his application essays. “Fortunately, I went from being a statistic to being recognized all over Michigan. It happened about two years ago as a new member at the Boys & Girls Club. It was a moment of enlightenment in which I realized I could accomplish anything.” To read more from this essay, click here.

Applicants for Youth of the Year are screened and judged on leadership qualities and service exhibited in the following areas: Home and Family, Moral Character, Community, School, Service to Club, Life Goals, Obstacles Overcome, Essays, Poise, and Public Speaking.

Cesar cannot wait to begin college next fall and expand his education to new horizons. In his second application essay, he had to write about why post-high school education was important to him.

It’s amazing how much someone’s life goals can change with a blink of an eye,” wrote Cesar. “I have learned many things about this world, and I have come a lot closer to discovering who I really am. Opportunities, helping others and education are the key to success.” To read more from this essay, click here.

The Michigan Youth of the Year competition will take place on April 9th. Cesar will be practicing his speech and continuing to brighten the lives of those around him until then. As much as Cesar is grateful for Boys & Girls Club, the Club Staff and other Club Members are equally as thankful for his presence.


Article written by Sara Schneider.

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