Ny’Shara Cox is a true example of an extraordinary teenager. At age 17, she has just been selected to compete against other Boys & Girls Club members from all over the state for the Washington Youth of the Year title, a $1,000 scholarship, and the chance to move on to the regional Youth of the Year competition. As the Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County (BGCTC), Cox is among thousands of local youth across the country recognized by Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) for strong character, leadership skills and willingness to give back to the community.
Being named Youth of the Year is the highest honor a Boys & Girls Club member can receive. The program—founded over 60 years ago— celebrates youth who have overcome enormous odds and demonstrated exceptional character and accomplishments. These deserving young people are recognized for service to their Club and community, academic performance and contributions to their family.
Cox, a junior at Timberline High School, will represent the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County at the Washington Youth of the Year competition at Seattle University on March 21. The winner will be announced by Governor Gregoire the next morning at a special reception held at the Governor’s mansion. Ny’Shara was chosen from a group of deserving peers from the three other area Clubs after a thorough selection process. The competition included giving a speech and being interviewed by the panel of judges—a mix of BGCTC supporters, board members and administrative staff. This is the second year in a row that a member of the Lacey Club has won.
Cox has been a member at the Boys & Girls Club since 2006, and is now a part time staff member working in the art room. She loves working with the younger kids and, as the oldest of six siblings, is a natural born leader. Her experience at the Club started during a very difficult time in her life. “My mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was 8 years old,” Cox said. “Soon after she died I started coming to the Club. The Club helped me get through the loss of my mom by giving me so many chances to make her proud of me.”
Ny’Shara has some big dreams for her future that blend her academic strengths with her favorite hobbies. She already has a college scholarship secured through the College Bound Scholarship program and plans to study business, fashion, and social work. Dance is also an important part of her life and she hopes to incorporate this into her professional career somehow as well.
“Ny’Shara has been a true leader in our teen programs, helping to plan activities for teens that kept them interested and hungry for me,” says Shellica Trevino, Lacey Branch Director. “We are so proud of her many accomplishments at the Club, school, and her church.
If Cox wins the state title, she will compete for Pacific Region Youth of the Year and an additional $10,000 scholarship. The five regional winners will travel to Washington, D.C. to compete for BGCA’s National Youth of the Year. The National Youth of the Year receives up to an additional $50,000 college scholarship and is installed by the President of the United States in an Oval Office ceremony. Ny’Shara is looking to follow in the footstep of Thurston County’s own 1984 BGCA National Youth of the Year recipient, Dr. Tony Agtarap. Dr. Agtarap is an orthopedic surgeon with Olympia Orthopaedic Associates and a founding board member of BGCTC.