Pasadena Teen Competes Tonight in Speech Contest to Become Spokesperson for Boys and Girls Club of America

Published : Wednesday, April 5, 2017 | 5:39 AM

Teenagers undoubtedly have a lot on their plate from balancing their studies, social life and extracurricular activities, but for Pasadena High School senior Ivonne Gonzalez becoming the spokesperson for the Boys and Girls Club of America may be right around the corner.

Gonzalez is a longtime member of the nationally recognized youth club — twelve years to be exact — and will take the stage with five other counterparts at Hollywood’s famous El Capitan Theater Wednesday to read her final speech as a panel from the Los Angeles County Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs selects L.A.’s 2017 Youth of the Year.

“I’ve spent many years involved with the Boys and Girls Club and it has helped shape me into the young woman I am today. I am excited to be apart of the Youth of the Year program and to hopefully continue to climb the ladder and make it to nationals,” said 18 year old Ivonne Gonzalez.

Since 1947, Youth of the Year has been Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier recognition program, celebrating the extraordinary achievements of Club teens.

Club members who earn the youth of the Year title embody the values of leadership service, academic excellence and healthy lifestyles and exemplify the critical impact that Boys Girls Clubs have on the lives of young people, according to the Boys and Girls Club website.

“As Youth of the Year, she represents the Club, she represents the best of the best and provides an example for our younger members and as a resource for the community to understand what happens at the Boys and Girls Club,” said Boys and Girls Club Pasadena CEO Brian Davis.

Twenty three other young adults will come together at the special event representing their clubs from all over L.A. County to deliver their personal speeches about their journey within the Club with hopes of taking on the well deserved title as the 2017 Youth of The Year.

Gonzalez has already endured two previous rounds of judging that included the preliminary round that reduced 23 finalists down to six and also a private session at ABC-7′s facility in Glendale where she read her speech to a panel that is ready to unveil their decision Wednesday night.

The winner of the competition will then go on to compete for the state title, followed by a chance to compete for the Pacific regional title that includes nine states on the west coast. From there, the highest honor that can be achieved is the national Youth of the Year which means one hard working youth will become the spokesperson for the Boys and Girls Club of America.

“I try to let people know that the Boys and Girls Club is a big program and not something like a daycare. It’s something else than that and I love talking about it and opening people’s eyes about what it has to offer,” said Gonzalez.

The application process included three different essays that outline their club experience, the meaning of the club in their lives and a final essay about their personal brand, according to Davis.

From there, the applicants gathered various letters of recommendations from teachers and mentors outside of the club environment, submitted their transcripts and gave a three to five minute speech to deliver before the judges.

The panel included Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez, Pasadena Unified School District Superintendent Brian McDonald, Willard Elementary School Principal Angela Baxter, Walt Disney Company Representative Ginger Mort, Flintridge Prep Athletic Director Alex Rivera and Pasadena Rotary Club President Shel Capeloto.

While Gonzalez is eager to rise to the top, she is taking everything one step at a time.

Gonzalez and five additional members total from both of Pasadena’s locations applied for the Youth of The Year competition.

“She’s always been a leader and she’s always cared about other people and put other people first. Anything that that a boy could do, she feels that she can do and also be a voice for everyone in between. She’s a tremendous role model for teenagers,” said Pasadena Boys and Girls Club Slavik Branch Teen Director Steven Austin.

This is Gonzalez’s second time going through as the Pasadena area Youth of The Year program following her trial during her freshman year at Pasadena High School three years ago.

“My life changed the moment I walked through those blue doors in 2005. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was immediately greeted by a caring staff member who welcomed me by introducing me to other members,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez exemplifies success at young age with many extracurricular activities on her plate. For starters, she is a varsity cheerleader at Pasadena High School, captain of the softball team, and a member of the club’s Blue Rays swim team.

“To deal with the stress of school, the Club introduced me to the importance of living an active and healthy life style.

When she’s not breaking a sweat with her sports duties, Gonzalez is preoccupied hitting the books as an honor roll student and an active member of PHS’ Law and Public Service Academy all while taking on a hefty workload of three Advanced Placement classes to prepare her for college coursework.

“Through the club I kept up with grades, motivated myself,and continued to be active in both sports and clubs,” Gonzalez explained

Gonzalez is also the President of the Keystone Club where members engage and socialize with peers, explore relevant issues, and develop skills to support and enhance efforts in their local Boys & Girls Clubs and communities such as homeless food drives and partnering with Heal The Bay to clean up beaches.

“As Keystone President, I was empowered to use my voice to be a leader in my club and community,” said Gonzalez who will attend Pasadena City College in the fall with plans to transfer to a four year university to study to become a gynecologist.

If selected as the L.A. County Youth of the Year, Gonzalez has a shot to compete for the State title and receive a $5,000 scholarship and advance to regional competitions.

From there, Regional winners receive an additional $10,000 college scholarship, renewable for four years up to $40,000.

Six youth, including five regional winners and a military winner, advance to the National Youth of the Year competition for a chance at an additional scholarship of $25,000, renewable up to $100,000 for four years.

According to Davis, 1972 and 1976 yielded Pasadena teens as National Youth of the Year winners.

The Pasadena Boys and Girls Club currently serves approximately 800 teenage members with an average of 100 teens a day who utilize the two facilities daily.

The Boys & Girls Club of Pasadena is arranging a special caravan of friends and supporters to head over to Hollywood for the event at the El Capitan Theater.

Guests can meet staff at 5:00 p.m. near the Arroyo in Pasadena, or the El Capitan located at 6838 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles..

RSVP to to or call (626) 449-9100 ext 205 where a meeting location will be provided.

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