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Memorial Senior Named ‘Youth of the Year’ by Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County

Memorial Senior Named ‘Youth of the Year’ by Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County

Winning the ‘Youth of the Year’ award from the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County (BGCDC) wasn’t the only victory Ameria Scott took home the night of Jan. 25; in addition to a $2,000 college scholarship, Scott said she won a deep sense of confidence and pride for the dedication and perseverance it took to get there.

“My first thought that ran through my head when I first found out I won was ‘I did it?!’ a type of confused happiness,” Scott, a senior at Vel Phillips Memorial High School, said. “I knew my words were powerful. But it was about how I delivered them that was so important.”

The Youth of the Year title is awarded to an exemplary young person in recognition of leadership, service, academic excellence, and dedication to living a healthy lifestyle, according to BGCDC. The competition consists of four parts: an interview, public speaking, three essays, and an overall application.

Scott’s award speech centered around her commitment to improving mental health access and amplifying voices in the Black community, goals she has been passionate about since she was young. She shared how moving a lot as a child made it difficult to feel seen and make connections in school. When she arrived at Orchard Ridge Elementary in third grade, one staff member in particular made a deep impact on her educational experience: a behavior support specialist named Michael Alston.

“What I admire about him was how he immediately stepped up. As one of the only Black staff members there at the time, he took the time to understand and build great relationships with the Black and brown students at Orchard Ridge Elementary,” Scott said.

Alston, now a student engagement specialist at West High, inspired Scott so much that she now wants to mirror the impact he had on her for future generations. 

Scott has demonstrated that commitment through her academics and participation in student groups: MSCR and BCGCDC’s “Tales With Big T” literacy support program; a council member on the Dear Diary board to empower Black women; the AVID/TOPS program to build up her college career readiness; serving as the co-president of Black Student Union and multicultural club at Memorial; and a council member on the Youth Advisory Board, which connects the City of Madison Police Department student outreach.

After graduation, Scott is planning to attend an HBCU (historically Black college and university) to become a behavioral therapist or family consumer science teacher with a minor in business. No matter the job title or major, she is focused on her main goal: supporting others.

“I will continue to be a role model for those young Black girls, using their loud voices just like me,” Scott said. “My journey has not only strengthened my character, but has put the battery in my back to support my community, and be the stepping stone for a brighter future.”

Now that she has won the county title and a $2,000 scholarship from BGCDC, Scott will go on to compete for a $2,500 college scholarship from the statewide organization chapter. If selected, she will continue to the title of Midwest Regional Youth of the Year, and eventually compete for a $20,000 college scholarship in the National Youth of the Year event in fall 2024.

Scott was nominated along with three other incredible MMSD high school scholars: Jesse Lenya at La Follette, Sandy Flores Ruiz at West, and Will Carter at East.