This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
MURRAY — Taylorsville High School senior Emily Carvajal was named the 2015 Utah Youth of the Year by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Wednesday.
Lt. Governor Spencer Cox presented the award at the Utah State Capitol. The award is the “highest award given to a member of Boys & Girls Clubs, recognizing them for sound character, leadership skills and community service,” according to a news release.
Representing the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Valley, Carvajal competed against three other teens representing Boys & Girls Clubs across Utah and won a $5,000 college scholarship, according to Boys & Girls Clubs of South Valley Area Director Terra Bueno.
“It’s a great honor,” Carvajal told KSL.com. “It’s one of the best experiences of my entire life that I will always remember.”
To compete for the award, Carvajal was required to submit her school transcripts, three essays and three letters of recommendation.
She then had to present a speech in front of five judges at Key Bank at City Creek Tuesday, Bueno said.
In her speech, Carvajal talked about the obstacles she has overcome in her life, including attending 11 schools in 11 years, having trouble with her parents and getting kicked out of her home.
“The Boys & Girls Club has always been my stability even though I never had stability,” Carvajal said. “It’s where I built relationships, and it’s where I learned how to have empathy, and it’s where I learned what family really was regardless if they were my blood or not.”
Carvajal will go on to compete for the regional Youth of the Year in June in Long Beach, California. The winner of that competition will then travel to Washington, D.C., to compete nationally, visit the White House and meet President Obama, Bueno said.
“She’s had to fight to get where she is today, but she’s willing to do that, she’s willing to put in the hard work, the blood, the sweat, the tears to get where she is,” Bueno said.
Carvajal works as an office assistant at the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Valley, and hopes to become a Youth Development Professional at the club this summer.
“They are the ones who make the most impact on kids,” Carvajal explained. “I want to give back to what the club has done for me because there are many kids who go through around the same struggles as I did.”
Carvajal plans to obtain a bachelor’s degree in human services so she can work with youths.
“The fact that she wants to help others like herself is admirable,” Bueno said.