2017 Youth of the Year Finalists

Melia T. Cunningham
Murphy Felton Tindall Club, Class of 2018
College of Choice: University of Notre Dame
Anticipated Career Choice: Pathologist
Melia Cunningham graduates from high school in May 2018 and considers herself quiet and athletic. She excels in basketball and plays on the Mount De Sales Academy basketball team. Committed to her academic success, and aspiration to become a pathologist, she takes honor courses at school to challenge herself. An avid healthy lifestyle enthusiast, she made a vow to never drink or do drugs because she has seen it affect the lives of so many talented people. She is committed to living a healthy lifestyle and commits to 7-8 hours of sleep every night to be alert for school and athletic performance. Melia volunteers at the M.A. Evans Academy to assist with children and grading assignments, at the Aubry Boyd charitable basketball tournament every summer, and in her church every Sunday. Melia finds safe haven in the Boys & Girls Clubs, as it gives her “a chance to come out of [her] comfort zone.” Though Melia is shy, she mentors youth at the Boys & Girls Club, meet new friends and is able to practice and demonstrate strong leadership as a Keystone (leadership and service club) member. Younger Club members are drawn to Melia’s quiet influence and they see her as a role model. Melia’s drive to succeed is strong. She understands through hard work and willpower she will be successful. 

Keemiya Coleman
Carl D. Thomas Club, Class of 2018
College of Choice: University of Florida
Anticipated Career Choice: Obstetrician/Gynecologist
Keemiya Coleman attends Southwest Magnet High School & Law Academy, and will graduate May 2018.  Always challenging herself, Keemiya is taking two advanced placement and honor courses, and will begin dual enrollment classes at Central Georgia Technical College in the spring. The dual enrollment program will allow this highly motivated student to earn an associate degree, while still in high school. Her teachers find her to be “one of the brightest students” they have taught, and state that “her initiative exudes her deeply held belief that what she is doing in school affects how interesting her life is going to be” Keemiya is currently ranked number 1 out of 180 students in her class. Not only is she dedicated to excelling academically, Keemiya is also Captain of Southwest Magnet High School’s girls’ softball team. She is the epitome of perseverance on the field, and strives to live a heathy lifestyle. Keemiya credits the Club with teaching her practical life skills and having benefitted from participating in the Money Matters (financial literacy) program. She also regularly volunteers at a homeless shelter, local food bank, and at the Club to mentor young girls and help with homework.  By exemplifying perseverance, she can change her generation, and future generations to come.

Khazavia Hill
Carl D. Thomas Club, Class of 2019
Military Faction of Choice: US Air Force
Khazavia Hill is a leader, determined, ambitious and dedicated to service in her community. “Put in effort, hard work pays off” are words she strives to live by. She believes that with hard work, effort and education, anything is possible.  The oldest of four, Khazavia is inspired by her mother, who has raised her alone. Khazavia promotes the power of positivity by setting and exceeding personal goals, to inspire her siblings and cousins. Though she struggles with “being the oldest and in and in charge all the time”, she understands that it contributes to her personal growth. Khazavia is a role model taking initiative and preserving through hard times. Inspired by her father’s enlistment, Khazavia dreams of joining the US Air Force. She currently serves in Westside High School’s Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) as a Senior Cadet Airmen.  She is not afraid to try new things and take risks to accomplish her goals “I want people to see me succeed.” Khazavia’s leadership and compassion for others gained her the respect and admiration of her peers. Her dedication to the Club is evident in her day to day service there. As a junior staff member, Khazavia helps with homework, runs Arts & Crafts and the Game Room at the Club, and has earned 600 hours of community service in 2016. 

Tricia Velasco