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The Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley is proud to introduce the winner of its prestigious Youth of the Year Award to seventeen-year-old Janelle Downs.
Janelle is a senior at Canoga Park High School and plans to further her education once she graduates by attending San Diego State University to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and minor in Psychology. Janelle would like to pursue a career as a constitutional lawyer because she would like to defend people’s constitutional rights.
Janelle struggled at a young age. Her mother was not around, which brought about several emotional issues and insecurities. She was raised by her father and stepmother and has two younger stepbrothers. Unfortunately, her stepmother suffered from a kidney failure, causing her to be in and out of the hospital. This forced Janelle to grow up at a young age because she had to take care of her two brothers while her stepmother was away. Her stepmother received a kidney transplant and then left the state with her sons. This caused a huge challenge for Janelle and father because they lost their home and family.
During Janelle’s first couple years of high school, she associated with the wrong group of people. They would do drugs, fail classes, and treat teachers with disrespect. Janelle felt ashamed to be friends with these types of people but she didn’t want to be alone. She joined the Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley, which changed her life.
“The Club is where I began to seek a change of environment and myself. The Club was there to guide me down a path of success with the help of tutors and staff members that made me accept and feel comfortable with my identity. The Club has encouraged me to pursue my dreams and has taught me that I have the capabilities to do so. By being the President of the Club’s Keystone program, I have developed many characteristics that I didn’t have before. The Club has made a positive impact on my life and has provided me with a home. I know that no matter where I go in life, I will always have the Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley as my home that I can always come back to.”
2013 Youth of the Year - Tom Tran
A Strong Leader
The Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley is proud to introduce the winner of its prestigious Youth of the Year Award to Tom Tran.
Tom Tran has been a member of the Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley for four years and is a student at Canoga Park High School. Since Tom's freshman year of High School, he has been determined to make his four years count from achieving academic success and giving back to his community by organizing and implementing service projects. This year, he has gone above and beyond with his academic plan and has been involved in various programs at the Club.
Tran currently is the President of the Club's Keystone program, a program focused on the development of a member's leadership by emphasizing career readiness, community service, and academic achievement. Participating in tutoring and helping out with the College Bound program has been a strong support towards Tom's success in his academic and career life. By being a part of the Cyber Patriot program, he has gained a passion to pursue a career in cyber defense.
Tom always managed to be a helping hand in his family and has created wonderful friendships with his peers and the Club's staff. Throughout his four years as a Clubmember, he has developed great relationships with the staff. Handing many issues in his home life, Tom always viewed the Club as a second home where he could be himself and escape from the stressed of his everyday life. The Club has been a huge part of Tom's life and has seen him develop into the person he has become today, a strong, resilient leader.
2012 Youth of the Year Selected
A Leader in the Making