Union Teen Named 2010 Youth Of The Year

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UNION—Recently selected as the 2010 Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County Youth of the Year, Shalyn Brangman, 15, of Union is a true example of extraordinary youth.

A member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County – Union Club, Brangman will receive a $1,000 scholarship from the Reader’s Digest Foundation. As the Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County, Brangman is among hundreds of local youth across the country recognized by Boys & Girls Clubs of America for her sound character, leadership skills and willingness to give back to the community.

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Brangman will also go on to compete against other members for the New Jersey Youth of the Year title on May 18, 2010 in Trenton. The 2010 Union County nominees also included; Yazmin Beeks from the Elizabeth Club; Ce’Rae Tyler and Imani Mutyanda from the Plainfield Club and Hazel Fraiter from the Union Club.

The Youth of the Year program, which is administered by Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and has been nationally sponsored by the Reader’s Digest Foundation since 1947, recognizes outstanding effort and contributions by a club member to their family, school, community and Boys & Girls Club, as well as having overcome personal challenges and obstacles.

“The Reader’s Digest Foundation has been the proud sponsor of the Youth of the Year program for over 60 years,” said Susan Fraysse Russ, executive director, Reader’s Digest Foundation.  “We are thrilled that we can honor amazing teens like Shalyn for their dedication and hard work.”

A sophomore at Union County Academy for Information Technology where she maintains a 3.6 GPA, Brangman has shown consistent effort in making education her priority and keeping her life on a positive track. She is generous with her sincere smile, humble demeanor and considerate nature and is always willing to share her knowledge in a caring and courteous manner. She has been honored as Student of the Month and has received Honor Roll of each marking period since her freshman year.

Although she is the youngest student in her grade, she serves as a tutor to her peers. Her creativity has been used in Student Government and she is a part of the Dance Club. Brangman has helped plan school and church events and rallied support for charitable organizations such as the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the American Red Cross.

The Boys & Girls Club has been a very important part of Brangman’s life. She joined the Union club at the age of eight then entered Torch Club at 11, where she was soon elected president by her peers and led group initiatives, such as peer tutoring, volunteering in the after school program with arts & crafts projects and homework help. Today, she serves as president of the Y.O.U.C.A.N. Keystone Club, elected by fellow members, most of which are older than she is. Among other initiatives to help her fellow club members, she started Teen Talk, an open group that discusses issues like peer pressure, acceptance, and individualism.  Through school, church and her club, Brangman puts forth her best effort to live by example.

“I see myself as a teacher,” stated Brangman. “I really enjoy helping others learn. I take steps each day to reach this goal by trying my best in school, tutoring others and seizing every opportunity to work with children. As the 2010 Youth of the Year for Union County, I look forward to sharing the value of education, as knowledge truly is power and the key to taking advantage of the opportunities that life presents.”

“Shalyn’s passion for selflessly helping her community is inspiring while her commitment to her education, and supporting her family and Club is exemplary, She is a very special young lady,” said Russell Triolo, Chief Executive Officer, Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County. “She is thoroughly deserving of this honor.”

If Brangman wins at the state level she will win a $20,000 scholarship and go on to compete for the title of Northeast Region Youth of the Year.  Five regional winners will then travel to Washington, D.C., to compete for the title of BGCA’s National Youth of the Year.  The National Youth of the Year receives an additional $15,000 college scholarship and will be installed by President Barack Obama in an oval office ceremony.

To be considered for the title, club members must write an essay and complete a face-to-face interview with a panel of judges, comprised of community leaders and several members of the BGCUC Board of Directors.

This year’s panel is headed by Timothy Williams, who is the Community Outreach Manager, Mid-Atlantic Region, for the event’s premier sponsor, Elizabethtown Gas. They actively support local youths through their company wide V-Force employee volunteer program. Additional judges included: Andrew Dudek – retired Corporate Event Planner, Novartis AG; Angel Cartagena – Owner, Batteries Plus; Marie Maguire – Assistant Vice President, Unity Bank; Bonnie Herrmann -Youth Activity Coordinator/Child Advocate, County of Union; Wycliffe Daniels – Assistant Scientist & Co-Chairman, The HiSPanos Network – Merck, Inc.

Also honored at this year’s event were Club members in the categories of Buddie of the Year (ages 6-9), Junior of the Year (ages 10-13), and Sportsman of the Year. They included:

ELIZABETH: Jasmyn Roach – Buddie of the Year; Niko Finnikin – Junior of the Year

PLAINFIELD: Ky’son Rivas – Buddie of the Year; Nirel Bravo – Junior of the Year; Michael Hill – Sportsman of the Year

ROSELLE: Harrison Elementary School: Shania Halim – Buddie of the Year;  Dr. Charles C. Polk Elementary School – Correl Heron, Jr. – Buddie of the Year; Washington Elementary School – Qua’yon Foreman – Buddie of the Year;

Leonard V. Moore Middle School – Maxyne Ball – Buddie of the Year; Grace Wilday Middle School – Dion Grier – Junior of the Year

HILLSIDE: AP Morris – Eboni Montilus – Buddie of the Year; AP Morris 2nd Grade Annex – Julia Meinerz Schmidt – Buddie of the Year

UNION: Christopher Boulin – Buddie of the Year; Angel Martin – Junior of the Year; Tiannah Rigsby – Sportsman of the Year

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County, which operates facilities in Union, Roselle, Plainfield, Elizabeth and Hillside, serves over 8,000 children and 3800 members a year.  They seek to inspire and enable young people, who need them most, to realize their full potential and have provided opportunity for youth since 1955. They are part of a national network of some 4,000 neighborhood-based facilities, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, which serves more than 4.6 million young people annually, in all 50 states and on U.S. military bases worldwide.

Known as “The Positive Place for Kids,” the Clubs provide guidance-oriented character development programs on a daily basis for children 6-18 years old, conducted by a full-time professional staff. Key Boys & Girls Club programs emphasize leadership development, education and career exploration, financial literacy, health and life skills, the arts, sports, fitness and recreation, and family outreach. To find out more, visit http://www.bgcuc.org


(L to R) Robert J. Genovese, Attorney at Law & President – BGCUC Board of Directors; Sal Dovi – BGCUC Chief Operating Officer: Shalyn Brangman – BGCUC Youth of the Year Winner; Russell Triolo – BGCUC, Chief Executive Officer Photo Credit: Nodoka Yamagata


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