Boys & Girls Club Blog

What the Youth of the Year Title Means to Me

Prior to my junior year I knew very little about the Charles F. Hyde Youth of the Year Scholarship or the Youth of the Year competition, but I remember seeing some of my older peers being awarded the title. I’m so glad that I was enlightened with what it all meant during my junior year and I was able to apply for the scholarship myself.

Because I was nominated by the Boys & Girls Club staff members as the overall girl of the month last September, I had the opportunity to fill out the application to become a candidate for the Youth of the Year Scholarship. The application consisted of a series of questions regarding my personal achievements, goals, background and community, Club and academic involvement, as well as essays about my Club experience, my personal brand and my vision for America’s youth. This year there were seven of us that applied. From there, our applications were given to a  panel of interview judges. These are spectacular people!  They sign up to be part of this committee because they care about our community youth and want to help us take the first steps towards our future.

Next in the process is the interviewing. I’ll never forget the anxiousness that I felt leading up to my turn to go in the room. It was like I could feel my heart beating in my ears. The most intense part was walking into the room, to a table of not just six judges, but seven, because our CEO Marc was also there. I shook hands with everyone around the table and introduced myself and then sat down and began answering questions about ME! They wanted to know more in depth details about things I wrote about in my application. Talking about myself was very different and a little bit awkward but the panel was so welcoming and kind and it didn’t take me long to realize that they were here to help me better myself and not bring me down. In the end, I had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs were shared.

The announcement of who won the title of Youth of the Year was next. I felt like I was going to jump out of my seat. I was nervous, excited- really I was a mixture of every emotion. When they called out my name as the winner it felt like the world stopped and I just couldn’t believe that it was real. I don’t even have words for the way I felt. I started crying and immediately started hugging everyone. I have never felt as accomplished as I did in that moment.

The next part of the process was creating my platform and speech. I am currently working with a speech coach and practicing memorization skills because in three weeks I will be traveling to Green Bay to compete in the State Youth of the Year Competition. Here I will get to meet other Youth of the Year winners from all over Wisconsin. After that competition, I hope to compete in the regional and national competition as well. I will also have the opportunity to showcase my speaking abilities at upcoming Club events, such as WineFeast and the Youth of the Year Dinner.

Overall, this experience has allowed me to let my voice be heard. I am grateful for everyone that has helped me get to this point and for everything that I have been given to succeed. I look forward to inspiring not only the members of our Club, but hopefully everyone I come in contact with. In the future, I plan to use my scholarship to attend Marian University and become a Law Enforcement officer. I hope that more of my community’s teens are able to take advantage of our Club’s great treasures, especially the Charles F. Hyde Youth of the Year Scholarship.


By: Nichole Van Hoof
2018 Boys & Girls Club of Oshkosh Youth of the Year