• Laura Ramirez
  • Cross Keys High School, senior
Laura Ramirez

Laura Ramirez changed from a quiet youth to an inspirational leader.

On Nov. 10, the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta named Laura the 2011– 2012 Youth of the Year. She was awarded a $5,000 college scholarship.

“I am still in shock. I don’t have many words to describe the feeling, just that I am so grateful,” Laura said.

There are 26 clubs in metro Atlanta, 22 of which serve teenagers. Each of the 22 clubs selects a youth of the month, and then narrows the list to a single nominee for the annual metro competition. Laura was selected out of these 22 students, and essentially represents the best of the Boys & Girls Clubs in Metro Atlanta.

“The Boys & Girls Club makes me want to give back to the club and to my community more,” Laura said. “Without them, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today.”

When applying to become a Youth of the Year, students have to fill out an application, give a speech, and complete an interview in front of a panel of judges. The application consists of eight essays that deal with the student’s family, school and club life, moral character, and community service involvement. The application also asks what the club means to the student and why he or she feels that secondary education is important.

Laura says that the club has helped her become a leader and has taught her the true meaning of giving back.

Laura has been working with the Boys & Girls Club for the past seven years. She began to attend the club after school while her parents were at work. She was not a social or active child and would sit quietly, finish her homework, and then read a book.

Bobby Dunn, executive director of the Brookhaven Boys & Girls Club, has known Laura ever since she started coming after school. He is amazed at how much she has changed and what she has been able to accomplish.

“Laura is real and down to earth. She literally commits to everything, and follows through on it all,” Bobby said. “I think the judges were able to see who she is and how genuine she is.”

Laura still goes to the club every day. While she’s there, she works on homework and college applications. She also mentors others, and tutors younger kids in science and math.

“It’s like my second home. I spend more time here than I do at home, and I’m surrounded by support and people that care,” Laura said.

At school, Laura maintains a 4.0 GPA. She is involved with seven clubs and is the captain of the tennis team and the swim team.

What’s Next:

Laura plans to attend Emory University or Agnes Scott College. She hopes to major in biology and minor in mathematics.