Meet our 2017 Youth of the Year Candidates!
Ford Heights Club
Na’Teah McLemore, age 18, might be an only child, but that doesn’t mean she is without any brothers or sisters. She says she’s come to think of the other members at the Ford Heights Club, where she’s been a member for the past eight years, as her family. That’s why she’s an active member of their Torch Club, to help provide leadership and guidance to the Club’s younger members. Na’Teah is a senior at Bloom Trail High School in Chicago Heights, staying involved through programs like National Honors Society, Senior Board, and Scholastic Bowl. When she’s not at school or the Club, she loves to play basketball and competitive double-dutch. And, if you can believe it, Na’Teah loves to play the videogame Call of Duty. Next year, she’s excited to tell people that she’s off to Michigan State University to study either finance or accounting.
James R. Jordan Club
Fabio Moss, age 17, has been a member at the Jordan Club for the past seven years, ever since his family moved into the neighborhood. The youngest of seven brothers, Fabio says he draws his motivation from his mother. After losing his father, one of his friends, and seeing some of the mistakes his brothers have made, Fabio is committed to making a difference in his community. In his Club, he demonstrates his commitment through his involvement in Torch and Keystone Clubs, among other activities. And, as a senior at Rowe Clark Math & Science Academy, he gets involved through National Honors Society, Student Government, Life Coaches, and Senior Council. Next year, he’s looking to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Fabio says that while people might know him as a goofy, funny person, he wants people to know that he is passionate about social issues and believes that anything is possible.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Club
Katrina Locust, age 16, may be soft spoken, but her words still create a big impact. Currently a sophomore at Chicago Quest Charter High School, where she is Co-Captain of the Debate Team and President of the Art Club, she already has a strong sense of what she wants to do with her life. After high school, Katrina wants to attend art and design school, with the hopes of working in animation as a career. "Everything to me is art," she says. And, although she says she sees things in a different way than most, she wants to help people see her point of view through her art. Katrina lives in the Austin neighborhood, where she is the youngest of three sisters. She has been a member of the King Club for the past ten years and is involved with their Torch Club.
Little Village Club
Maximiliano (Max) Martinez, age 18, is a resident of the Little Village neighborhood and has been a member of the Little Village Club for the past four years. When he’s at the Club, you’ll most often find Max on the basketball court or helping out with the younger Club members. A senior at Little Village High School, he’s involved with a program called BAM (Be A Man), designed to help get male teens out of their comfort zones and build trust and character within them. He credits an internship at the Club as an important moment in his life, teaching him how to better work with kids and how to manage his money. Next year, Max plans to attend community college, then transfer to a four year institution. He’s still deciding on his major and career path, but knows that he wants it to be something involving math with an eye towards business. Max says people may think he’s a joker, but he loves to volunteer and give back to his community.
Logan Square Club
Juwan Bell-Bey, age 16, has been coming to the Logan Square Club for the past ten years. At the Club, Juwan is involved in both Passport 2 Manhood and the Keystone Club. He and his family live in Logan Square, and he is the youngest of three siblings. Now a junior at Carl Schurz High School, Juwan is a part of his school’s ROTC program and also participates in his school’s bowling, softball and baseball programs. After high school, his plan is to attend Prairie View A&M in Texas for college, but he’s still deciding in what to major. Juwan says he’s great talking one-on-one, but is still working on talking to bigger crowds. When asked what message he would send to those reading this, he simply said, "Anger isn’t the key."
Aaron Martin, age 17, may not have thought these words up himself, but they’re still the words he says he lives by: "You were born an original, don’t die a copy." A resident of Uptown, Aaron has been a member of the Pedersen-McCormick Club for the past nine years. At the Club, he is heavily involved with the Keystone Club and, in fact, is on the steering committee for the National Keystone Conference being held in Chicago this year. Aaron is a senior at Amundsen High School, where he plays football, basketball and volleyball. When he’s not at school or the Club, Aaron works a part-time job at his local Jewel. So far, Aaron has been accepted to a number of different colleges, but he’s still making his final decision on which he wants to attend. Aaron says he’s "an open book." "If you ask me a question, I’ll give you the answer. And if I don’t know the answer, I’ll do everything I can to find it for you."
True Value Club
Monserrat (Monse) Garcia, age 16, lives in Little Village and has been attending the True Value Club for the past four years. She credits the Club with helping her open up, get out of her shell, and step out of her comfort zone. At the Club, Monse is involved with the Keystone Club and also loves to draw, listen to music and play volleyball. Monse currently attends Spry Community Links High School and is planning on attending Roosevelt University to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering after high school. When asked what she wants people to know about her the most, Monse says, "I won’t give up."
Louis L. Valentine Club
Christian (Chris) Gomez, age 17, says he may be an unconventional guy, but that that is what works for him. "I don’t want my story to be just like everyone else’s," he said. The youngest of four siblings, Chris has been coming to the Valentine Club for nine years. A self-described "computer geek" and senior at Lincoln Park High School, Chris is involved with Army ROTC and hopes to one day enlist in the Army. Before that, he’ll be attending Illinois State University to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice. After college and the Army, Chris’s dream is to join the FBI.