Jr. Aalihya Harmon walks up to the stage as excitement and awe rushes over her. She approaches the microphone to make a speech, and her mind cycles through all the hard work that brought her to this point. She thinks of the meetings spent preparing for interviews and planning her speech, and she remembers the long nights of writing and perfecting essays. This moment made all the effort worth it.
A little over four months prior, Harmon, along with three others from Holland, was nominated for Holland Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year. To be nominated for this impressive award, one must show promising leadership skills and be an advocate for change in the community and beyond. Harmon excels in both categories, making her the perfect nominee for the award.
In the months following her nomination, Harmon spent countless hours being interviewed, writing a speech, and working on essays. One of the judging requirements is to write three essays: one on how the nominee views America’s youth, one about the impact the Boys and Girls club has had on him/her, and one creating a personal brand, which requires coming up with three words and an object that describes oneself.
After about three months of hard work, it paid off as Harmon was announced winner of Youth of the Year Holland at an event held at the Midtown Center. Harmon was ecstatic when she heard her name announced. “I was really happy, like a weight was lifted off my shoulders, I was already giving it my all for about three months so when I heard my name I was excited because all my hard work paid off.”
After winning the local award, Harmon had the opportunity to represent the Holland Club at the state competition which took place in Detroit.
Harmon placed runner up in the state out of 15 participants. While this is an impressive placement, Harmon had mixed feelings about being so close to first. “I was sad at first because I wanted to keep winning, but I was okay with it after a while, and proud of myself that I made it that far.”
Harmon’s been part of The Boys and Girls Club since third grade, and its impact on her life has been huge. Harmon said what she likes most about Boys and Girls Club is “the people and family-like atmosphere…and most importantly the staff.” Because of all the club has done for her, Harmon is thankful she had the opportunity to win this award and represent everyone who has helped her grow as a person.