Since she was 8, JaLisa Wines has been connected to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis. Now, as a senior at Confluence Preparatory Academy, she’s been chosen as the 2017 Youth of the Year, the highest honor a club member can receive. The distinction recognizes “outstanding contributions to a member’s family, school, community and Boys & Girls Club.”
Wines was named Youth of the Year at the BGCSTL Great Futures Gala in mid-November. Eleven finalists were in the running.
“I had no idea,” said Wines about her reaction to the honor. “It feels good to be recognized, but I didn’t think I could do it.”
Why would she think that?
“I felt like the process was long. I had to push myself,” she said.
She explained that there was an application, three essays, a presentation and an interview with judges.
As a BGCSTL member, Wines is involved in different programs such as Smart Girls, Keystone Leadership Club and Junior Staff, which led to a job at the Saint Louis Zoo, where she’s worked for three years as an attractions operator.
Wines, who started her education as a kindergartner at Aspire Academy, previously known as Confluence Academy-Walnut Park, is a leader at CPA.
She’s involved in volleyball, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and is a College Summit Peer Leader. College Summit is a course offered to all seniors at CPA. It is “dedicated to transforming the lives of today’s youth by connecting them to college and career.” Through peer leadership, curriculum, real-time student performance data and technology, College Summit helps high school students get to and through college. Part of her responsibility is to get classmates to apply to at least three colleges, and make the connection between goals for the future and the choices students make in school.
Her future looks positive, too. She has a $2,500 scholarship from BGCSTL and she plans to attend Truman State University to major in accounting.
“From my perspective, the Boys & Girls Club has been life changing,” said Wines. “It’s another home for me. It’s a safe place and the staff is accepting. It’s a comfortable, happy place.”
A press release from BGCSTL sums up the experience of Wines and the finalists.