Each year, Boys & Girls Club organizations across the country choose one teen to represent their Club as Youth of the Year. This distinction is our Club’s highest honor given to the youth who demonstrates strong character and leadership, extraordinary service to the community, and shows academic success. Each year, we shine the spotlight on those members who have taken advantage of the Club’s resources to fuel their drive and self-confidence to realize their full potential.
This year we are proud of our three finalists selected to compete for the title of 2022 Waltham Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year. The judging process includes evaluating the nominees’ academic performance, personal statements, public speaking skills, and one-on-one interviews with candidates.
This years’ Waltham Boys & Girls Club nominees – JainCarlos Aquino, Kassandra Enqiruez, and Ayden Li Vargas – will share their remarkable stories during a special Facebook LIVE event on Wednesday, March 30, 2022, at 4:00 p.m.
The winner of our organization’s Youth of the Year will be selected to participate in Massachusetts, Northeast Region, and the National competitions. Each step of the journey provides the winners with scholarships and prizes.
Meet our finalists, all of whom are shining examples and living proof that Great Futures Start Here at the Waltham Boys & Girls Club.
Kassandra Enriquez moved to Waltham from Bolivia at age 15 during the summer of 2021 and immediately sprung into action working as an intern for the Summer Eats Program at the Waltham Boys & Girls Club. Kassandra, a junior at Waltham High School, is a teen staff member working with the Club’s Elementary Out of School Time Program, and an active member of the Keystone Club, a teen character and citizenship program that meets weekly to host activities, events, and fundraisers that promote healthy lifestyles and civic engagement.
Kassandra has a bright personality and warm smile that instantly attracts everyone she comes in contact with and is committed to being a role model for the next generation of multicultural youth. “Empathy is an essential quality for a good leader. Recently we had a refugee come to our school. Being a new student, and a daughter of immigrant parents, I know what it feels like to be new and alone. I believe it is very important to be there for others, so I started a conversation with the new student and helped them settle into their new environment.” Kassandra says she is committed to being an advocate for the community and connectedness of America’s youth.
“I will try my best not only to be a mentor but also to be a good friend, role model, and someone they are able to rely on.”
JainCarlos Aquino, a senior at Waltham High School is a six-year member of the Waltham Boys & Girls Club. Over the years JainCarlos has proven to be a reliable and compassionate leader. He proudly serves on the Waltham Boys & Girls Club Keystone Club Executive Board, basketball team, and is a teen staff member supporting the Education and STEM Classroom. Some of his proudest moments at the Waltham Boys & Girls Club include participating in the Black Lives Matter March in 2020, preparing a Thanksgiving food drive for local families, and most recently organizing the MLK Service Day Mural Project.
What’s most important to JainCarlos is connecting with youth to show them the relationships they make at the Club can help them be successful in all areas of their lives. “The Waltham Boys & Girls Club has not just been a safe space to go after school, it has provided me with a community of people that have changed the course of my life. The people here want nothing but the best for each youth member who walks through the door. Each staff member pushes us to do great things and be great people.”
“The Waltham Boys & Girls Club has not just been a safe space to go after school, it has provided me with a community of people that have changed the course of my life. The people here want nothing but the best for each youth member who walks through the door. Each staff member pushes us to do great things and be great people.”
Ayden Li Vargas has been a member of the Waltham Boys & Girls Club since he was a young child and considers it his second home. He is the kind of teen who is always looking to lend a helping hand wherever he can. Ayden works hard to always improve himself, whether it be in the gym or in the classroom. His leadership is best showcased in his role with Keystone Club, as a teen staff member at the Club, and as a Summer Eats Food Site Youth Ambassador. Ayden is also a proud member of the Club’s basketball team and has taken advantage of every program available to him as a Club member.
“Programs are so great at the Club and they are what make me want to help the Club in the future and give others a helping hand. From personal experiences, I know that leadership plays an important role in shaping a child’s future. Being surrounded by people who care for me at the Club made me believe that I had hope for my future. I plan to use all of the knowledge that the Club has given me to support youth, and change the world for the better.”
Each year, we are inspired by the resilience, courage, hope, and talent of our Youth of the Year, and look forward to announcing this year’s title winner on Facebook LIVE this Wednesday, March 30, 2022, at 4:00 p.m.
We are proud to see the perseverance, strength, determination, and confidence that each finalist has displayed throughout this journey.