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Club Youth Development Professional Alyssa Trujilla, Youth of the Year Maria De La Mora, and Teen Program Director Liz Hopley (Photo courtesy: BGC-Carlsbad)

Maria De La Mora Named Youth of the Year

 Maria Receives $10,000 College Scholarship

Carlsbad CA— Everyone knows Maria De La Mora and Polina Past are special teens. Now it’s official! The two young people were selected as Boys & Girls Clubs of Carlsbad’s Youth of the Year Winner and Runner-Up, respectively.

The Youth of the Year program recognizes superior leadership skills, academic achievement, obstacles overcome, and outstanding service to Boys & Girls Clubs and the community. Thanks to the generosity of Julie and Matt Harelson and Keith Blackburn, Maria will receive a $10,000 college scholarship, and Polina will receive $1,500 for higher education purposes.

Maria was introduced to the Boys & Girls Club in 2009. She had just moved to California from Mexico, didn’t speak a word of English, and was frightened. It was hard for her to communicate or make friends. But with the help of the Club, Maria was able to break out of her shell, gather her courage, become more confident, and be a strong role model.

“I would go the Club every day after school. As time passed, my fear diminished. I developed friendships with other Club members and grew closer to many of the staff. I couldn’t wait to go to the Club because I knew my afternoon would be filled with fun and joy. At the Club I learned to be a good leader, I discovered my passions, and overcame my fears.”

The oldest of three girls, Maria has faced a number of obstacles in her young life. Shortly after arriving in the US, her parents divorced. “I was devastated about the divorce. The Club helped my family by inviting my mom, dad, sisters, and me to classes where kids and parents learn how to deal with the many challenges that come with divorce.”

Well deserving of this prestigious award, Maria is a junior at Carlsbad High School. She hopes to attend UCLA and major in Psychology. “My mom never graduated from high school. I want to be a role model for Latinas by living a healthy lifestyle and getting a higher education.”

Three adjectives describe Maria: role model, service, and determination. She was a WEB leader (Where Everyone Belongs) in 8th grade, helping incoming 6th graders have a positive transition from elementary to middle school. She helps her single father around the house and with her younger siblings, tutor peers, plans and organizes activities for younger Boys & Girls Club members, volunteers at the Humane Society, and ushers at her church.

“We are so proud of what Maria has accomplished,” said Program Director Abby Snyder. “She has navigated a number of challenging life situations with unique grace. She understands the importance of education, and has taken advantage of every opportunity presented to her.”

Maria will go on to compete for the San Diego County Youth of the Year. She, along with Runner Up Polina, will be honored at the Club’s Super Star Recognition Dinner to be held in May. “Being named the Youth of the Year means that I will now be able to help and inspire even more kids who are going through tough situations,” stated Maria. “I’m so proud of this accomplishment, because it will allow me to share the challenges I went through in the past in order to help others.”

About Boys & Girls Clubs of Carlsbad

Boys & Girls Clubs of Carlsbad has played an integral role in the Carlsbad community since 1952, providing programs and services to thousands of young people. The organization is nearly100% funded by local donors.  For more information, call (760) 729-0207, email info@bgccarlsbad.org, or visit www.bgccarlsbad.org.