For the second time in three years, Independence teenager Vanesa Rodriguez has been named Missouri Youth of the Year by Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Rodriguez, who recently graduated from William Chrisman High School and represented the Independence Unit on Leslie Street, was chosen last month receives a $5,000 college scholarship from Boys & Girls Clubs will vie for Midwest Regional Youth of the Year. She was a regional finalist after winning Missouri Youth of the Year in 2016.
At Chrisman, Rodriguez was a member of the National Honor Society. At the Boys & Girls Club, she served as president of the Keystone Club (teens for leadership and community service), Diplomas to Degrees, SMART Girls (small-group health, fitness, education and self-esteem enhancement) and Meth SMART (avoiding drugs). Rodriguez plans to attend the University of Missouri and pursue a medical career as a nurse or doctor.
The youth of the year program is in its 71st year. Boys & Girls Clubs choose their youths of the year from the various branches, and the winners then participate in the state youth of the year competition. Five regional winners will receive $10,000 scholarships (renewable for four years), and they will join a military youth winner to compete in September for National Youth of the Year. That winner receives a $25,000 scholarship, renewable for four years, with the opportunity to meet the president in the White House.