By Austin Fast WCPO.COM
CINCINNATI -- The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati recently recognized six outstanding teens in its 2017 Youth of the Year competition.
Ariel Mullins, a senior at Holmes High School representing the Marge Schott-Unnewehr Club in Covington, Kentucky, was chosen as the 2017 Youth of the Year.
"While at home I cried and hid in my room, as soon as I went to the Boys & Girls Club, I smiled," Mullins said in a news release. Over the next several years, club staff say Mullins blossomed into a happy teen who excelled in the classroom as well as sports.
With her senior year coming to an end and graduation approaching, Mullins has plans to attend the University of the Cumberlands on an academic scholarship and continue her swimming career. Ariel received a $20,000 scholarship from Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati as recognition of her hard work and triumph in the Youth of the Year Competition.
"Ariel Mullins is a very resilient young woman who has overcome obstacle after obstacle on her way to creating a great future," said Brent Seelmeyer, president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati. "She is the epitome of what the Boys and Girls Clubs are all about - academic success, healthy lifestyles and good citizenship. I am excited to have her represent thousands of the local kids who need us most as the 2017 Youth of the Year."
The six finalists have overcome challenges that many do not experience in a lifetime - making their accomplishments even more impressive. The Youth of the Year competition features kids who have met personal challenges head-on and despite the odds, have given back to their club and community.
The Youth of the Year winners are chosen based on their demonstration of service to the club, community and family; academic success; strong moral character; life goals; and public speaking ability. These high achievers personify the values and character of their home club.
Kenya Bohannon, who was chosen as the 2017 runner-up, is a junior at Cincinnati College Preparatory Academy attending the Findlay Street Boys and Girls Club in the West End. Kenya's future plans include attending college and receiving her doctoral degree to one day become a psychologist or dentist. Kenya has been attending her club for eight years.
The four other finalists included:
- Qwadry-Ishmael Kelsey, a sophomore at Shroder High School from the U.S. Bank Boys and Girls Club. Qwadry has plans to get his master's degree in engineering. Qwadry has been attending the club for eight years.
- Breanna Roby is a junior at Newport High School attending the Clem and Ann Buenger Boys and Girls Club with plans to study nursing in college. Breanna has been attending the club for five years.
- Ronald Wallace Tate Jr., the youngest competitor, is a freshman at the Larry and Rhonda Sheakley Boys and Girls Club who plans to continue earning good grades throughout high school and eventually go to college to major in engineering. Ronnie has been attending the club for three years.
- Hailey Hultz, a sophomore at New Richmond High School, attends the Robert Williams Boys and Girls Club. Hailey hopes to one day attend the University of Cincinnati and major in nursing. This is Hailey's first year attending the Club.
"The Youth of the Year is the highest honor a member of Boys and Girls Clubs can receive," Seelmeyer said. "I am so proud of our six teens who were voted by their peers to represent their respective neighborhoods as the voice of youth who need us most."
The contest was sponsored by Disney, the Cincinnati Reds, Macy's and Toastmasters International.