National Youth of the Year is the highest honor a Club member can achieve, and the latest success in Jocelyn’s accomplished life. Her Boys & Girls Club journey started when she was just 5 years old, in Milpitas, California. In a community where drugs and crime and gangs were not unusual, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Silicon Valley gave Jocelyn a safe place to spend out-of-school time.
Relationships she formed with Club staff over the years have helped Jocelyn become self-assured and recognize that current circumstances do not necessarily dictate future success. When school stopped challenging her, she took it upon herself to apply to a private school … which admitted her *and* awarded her a scholarship. Using coding skills learned at the Club, she made her a photo-sharing app and landed internships.
Jocelyn received the National Youth of the Year award from Misty Copeland (second from left) as her co-finalists applauded.
Helping others is important to Jocelyn, too. As a 6-year-old, she’d help her mother pack toiletries in plastic bags to give to people who were homeless. That desire to give back continues to burn bright in Jocelyn. To help teens who struggle with various issues, she founded a nonprofit called the Under-represented Teen Advocacy Program. As UTAP Chief Operating Officer, Jocelyn helps lead efforts to connect Bay-area teens with services for health care, legal counseling, educational assistance, basic needs, counseling and drug rehabilitation.
Jocelyn’s goals include to study journalism at the University of Southern California. Her longer-term plans include becoming a reporter as well as an attorney and entrepreneur. As National Youth of the Year, Jocelyn will receive $145,000 in academic scholarships, a portion of the over $1 million in scholarships awarded to Club teens every year through the program. She will also receive a trip to Disney World and a new Toyota. The Youth of the Year program is presented by The Walt Disney Company with support from signature partner, Toyota, and partners University of Phoenix and Taco Bell Foundation.
Together, we can create opportunities for youth just like Jocelyn, to enable all kids and teens to achieve a great future. Congratulations, Jocelyn! And thank you in advance for being the extraordinary voice and advocate for all young Americans that I know you will be.