Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Youth of the Year Stays on Course; She Credits Boys & Girls Clubs as 'A Second Family'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Youth of the Year Stays on Course; She Credits Boys & Girls Clubs as 'A Second Family'

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey

In the eighth grade, Kori Scott decided she wanted to be a nurse practitioner when she grew up.

Five years later, despite several years of emotional upheaval that included her parents' divorce, no longer having her father in the household, foreclosure on the family home and moving in with her grandmother, her eyes are still on that prize.

Now 18, she is to graduate in June from Jacksonville's A. Philip Randolph Career and Technical High School with a diploma and a certified nursing assistant license and then head off to college.

Scott stayed on course, she said, because she had a sanctuary.

She had the Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Florida's NFL-Youth Education Town, where she has been a member since eighth grade and has become a leader among her fellow teens and a role model for younger children.

"The club is like a second family to me and were always there for me" she said. "I could kind of get my mind off everything."

The area Boys & Girls Clubs recently recognized her progress by naming her its 2014 Youth of the Year. The national program salutes members "who have demonstrated exemplary character, superior leadership, notable academic achievement and outstanding service to their club and the community."

The other nominees were Caitlin Gulley of the Beaches club, Robert Strange Jr. of the Miller Freedom Club in Fernandina Beach and Tayren Way of the Roberts Learning Center, also in Fernandina Beach.

Scott received a $2,000 college scholarship and will go on to compete in state and possibly regional and national competitions. Five regional winners each receive a $10,000 scholarship and compete on the national level for a scholarship of up to $50,000.

Angela Harris, unit director of NFL-Youth Education Town for four years, said she could go the distance.

"I am very proud of Kori," she said. "She is very responsible, accountable ... She is a hard worker, goal-oriented. I have watched her just bloom.

"She has always been a leader. She sets the standard," Harris said.

When Scott first arrived at the club, north of downtown and one of the nonprofit's 14 Northeast Florida locations, she didn't make much of a splash.

"I was very quiet. I was not used to being with kids my own age," she said.

She would come in, go to the teen room and sit in the corner.

Eventually, with the help of a staff member, Scott became more comfortable and took part in activities. She was invited to join the club's Keystone teen leadership group, which focuses on academic success, career preparation and community service, with activities designed to prepare youth for the future. The group offered a wide range of activities from parties to college tours and career days. She learned how to interact and network with people.

"I learned that I have leadership skills," she said. …

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