First-generation college student Melissa Centeno-Rosales was recently named the 2020 Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands Youth of the Year.
Melissa is a 2020 Omaha South High School graduate in her first year at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She is a Next Generation Leadership Scholarship recipient and is active in the Office of Latino/Latin American Studies community.
When she is not spending time on school, homework and family, Melissa enjoys giving back to the community. She volunteers at the Open Door Mission and spends a lot of time at the South Omaha Boys & Girls Club. Melissa shared it was her College Possible coach who inspired her passion for community involvement.
“College Possible has been the ones that pushed me to go out and volunteer more. I would typically keep to myself and go straight to school and the Boys & Girls Club, but because I had coaches from College Possible, I volunteered, and meeting new people helped me give speeches and build my resume.”
This fall, Melissa was named the 2020 Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands Youth of the Year.
Finalists were selected based upon five key categories including, moral character, community involvement, academic achievements, Club membership tenure, and strength in perseverance and persistence.
“I believe Melissa was selected because she is naturally articulate, thoughtful and engaging. She will represent the organization extremely well,” said South Omaha Boys & Girls Clubs Unit Director, Francisco ‘Paco’ Fuentes.
Melissa will now go on and represent the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands at the State Youth of the Year competition in 2021, and if selected, she will head to a Midwest Regional competition followed by the National competition.
College Possible and BGCM work together to provide holistic support for students in the Omaha community. Jermaine Jones, BGCM Vice President of Community and Scholarship Outreach, emphasizes collaboration and partnership between the two organizations is important to student success.
“Our college and career programming is very important for our teens as they plan for their post-secondary education and career paths.
The great relationship Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands has with College Possible, allows for positive reinforcement of college being a realistic option for students no matter what their background is. The partnering of these programs also provides a much needed wrap around support system for students as they matriculate through high school and pursue their college dreams. A student can never have enough support, and this is very evident in the great relationship between the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands and College Possible.”
Q&A’s with Melissa:
How has the pandemic affected your college experience?
“I didn’t expect college to be so rough at home, but I’m doing okay. I’m learning a lot I didn’t know before. I’m in medical humanities, so I’ve been taking all electives. One of my professors is a nurse, so we learn about what she sees happening in the health industry.”
How has a College Possible coach helped you?
“Kari was the one who always showed me opportunities; she always kept us in consideration whenever something new came up. She would send me a list of scholarships I was eligible to apply and one was the Next Generation Scholarship. I wouldn’t have gotten that without her.”
Why is a college degree important?
“College helps me learn more about what is going on in society. My medical humanities course has taught me about disparities and about what people go through. I want to broaden my knowledge and keep learning about my community.”