After winning the Boys and Girls Club California Youth of the Year in April of 2020, now-senior Mario Lopez competed against students from Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington in order to be named the Boys and Girls Club Pacific Youth of the Year on Friday, Aug. 13.
In order to prepare for the competition, Lopez had to submit a cover letter, his resume, two letters of recommendation, his transcripts, three essays and his application back in January. Closer to the competition date, Lopez developed a three-minute speech and prepared for a 15-minute interview with the judges where he was asked five questions. These questions outlined how he was emotionally impacted by COVID-19, how he would like to help solve issues teens face with his platform as Youth of the Year, how he plans to impact his Club and community, what kept him motivated during the Youth of the Year process and how he feels teens can best contribute to making a difference in society.
The competition was held over a Zoom call, allowing for the competition to run smoothly and comply with the COVID-19 guidelines. Lopez arrived at his local Boys and Girls Club located in San Juan Capistrano that he represents, where he then gave his speech and interview in a room alone. Meanwhile, some of his competitors stayed in the comfort of their own homes.
After a stressful and anxious competition day, Lopez still had two weeks until the Pacific Youth of the Year was named. He was named the Pacific Youth of the Year, advancing him to the national competition on Friday, Aug. 27.
The national competition will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 6, most likely over Zoom. Traditionally, the competition is held in Washington D.C. where final competitors would visit the White House and President Donald Trump, though COVID-19 presently prevents this. Lopez was the first region winner to be selected, and five other region winners will be selected to join Lopez in the national competition. Lopez will work on his speech and interview skills and write another three-minute speech in preparation for this intense event.
Lopez’s hardwork and diligent effort has allowed him to advance far into the competition, and helped him to win $30,000 dollars in scholarship money throughout the entire Youth of the Year process. He emphasizes the immense amounts of support the Boys and Girls Club community has given to him, and to other kids alike. He “hopes to inspire others with [his] story and shed light on relevant issues [his] community faces.”
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