Watertown’s Destiny Santalucia was chosen from the top members of Boys & Girls Clubs around Massachusetts to be the state’s Youth of the Year. She is the first winner from Watertown.
Santalucia, who recently graduated from Watertown High School, attended the 2018 Massachusetts Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year Event, along with the 31 other Youths of the Year from across the state. Then the big moment came.
“It was such a surreal moment when they announced my name, I was shocked,” Santalucia said. “All of the other Youths of the Year are such amazing and inspirational people and I feel so lucky to be a part of that group. I had such a great time getting to know everyone.”
The award comes with a $5,000 prize, plus she received the $20,000 Myra H. Kraft Giving Back Scholarship for being named the state Youth of the Year.
Having a winner from Watertown is exciting, said Renee Gaudette, executive director of the Watertown Boys & Girls Club. She said the award often goes to youths from bigger cities than Watertown. Santalucia has an exceptional academic record, has shown commitment to her Club and community, and is an outstanding role model for all youth, Gaudette said.
“I was overwhelmed with pride and excitement upon learning that Destiny was selected as the Massachusetts State Youth of the Year,” Gaudette said. “Youth of the Year is Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier recognition program, highlighting the best and brightest young people in our nation. To be chosen as the State Youth of the Year is a huge honor and distinguishes Destiny’s accomplishments as both a Club member and young person striving to improve herself and her community.”
Youth of the Year starts at the local club level. Santalucia wrote and essay and then was interviewed by the judges. During the interview she had to give a three minute speech from memory, and then answer 10, or so, questions.
At the state level the candidates went through two interviews, one in the preliminary round and one for the four finalists.
Santalucia has been attending the Watertown Boys & Girls Club since she was 7 years old.
“The club has always been there for me pretty much my entire life, mainly through the Watertown Wavemakers swim team or Camp Hale,” Santalucia said. “It’s a place where I could be myself and was encouraged to be, and I feel that is the same for all kids who go there.”
Santalucia will be a freshman at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in the fall, but before she goes she will work as a counselor at Camp Hale. She will also be playing tournament softball with her club team, Demolition Softball.
The Watertown Boys & Girls Club opened in 1972, and one of the goals of the club is to provide leadership opportunities, and mentorships with positive adult role models to prepare young people to lead healthy, fulfilling lives, Gaudette said.
“Seeing our youth members turn into successful young adults makes it all worthwhile!” Gaudette said. “Destiny is a shining example of the transformative power of the Boys & Girls Club and we are so proud to have her representing us through the Youth of the Year competition.”