Carly Mertz, 17, and Dylan Voy, 18, were awarded Arizona Youth of the Year honors during an online ceremony, which the Arizona Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs organized and Fiesta Bowl Charities presented Tuesday, March 31.
Miss Mertz, a 12-year member of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale’s Thunderbirds Branch, was named the 2020 Arizona State Youth of the Year.
Mr. Voy, a 7-year member of the Luke AFB Youth Program, received the 2020 Arizona State Military Youth of the Year top honors.
Selected from a field of seven candidates from Boys & Girls Club organizations around the state, Miss Mertz and Mr. Voy will receive scholarships and go on to compete at the regional level in their respective categories.
Regional winners move on to Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year competition, according to a press release.
“It is an absolute honor to represent my Thunderbirds Branch, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale, and the State of Arizona,” Miss Mertz said following the announcement.
“It means so much to me to be able to give something back to the Boys & Girls Clubs since they have done so much for me throughout my life. I hope to raise awareness about the serious issues of negative mental health in youth and teens and to make support systems more accessible.”
In Miss Mertz’s three-minute competition speech she cited the national statistic that one in five teenagers struggle with anxiety and feelings of inadequacy and spoke passionately about the Club’s programs and mentors that continue to help her find confidence, positive body image, and acceptance.
“We are so very proud of Carly and the impressive young lady she has become,” Robyn Julien, BGCS CEO, said in a prepared statement.
“She truly exemplifies the magic of the Clubs and will be an impactful spokesperson for the growing number of teens in all demographics who struggle with anxiety disorders.”
Each of the seven teen candidates presented their three-minute speeches to judges and completed the interview process using video conferencing on Monday, March 30, 2020. The winners were announced live online in a virtual ceremony the following day.
“Even though I would have loved to meet the other amazing candidates, Boys & Girls Clubs of America kept everyone safe by making the process virtual,” Miss Mertz said. “I am so excited to have this opportunity to make Arizona proud.”
Miss Mertz has been accepted to Arizona State University’s Barrett, The Honors College and will pursue her interests in community service and corporate responsibility through a major in marketing and hospitality.
Mr. Voy is taking honors and AP classes while maintaining a 3.6 GPA. His goal after graduation is to pursue a degree in Aerospace Engineering before joining the US Air Force as an officer.
“These youth represent the very best of our Clubs. Their academic and philanthropic achievements are an inspiration in a time of so much uncertainty and change,” Andy Reese, the board chair for the Arizona Alliance and a member of the Board of Directors for Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley, said in a prepared statement.
“Our clubs have been a stabilizing force in the lives of thousands of youth around Arizona, and I’m thrilled to see Carly and Dylan advance to the regional Youth of the Year competition.”
All of the candidates previously competed at local levels to represent their individual Boys & Girls Club organizations before moving on to the state competition.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Youth of the Year Program is a premier youth development recognition experience celebrating academic success, examples of leadership and overall club involvement.
Teens must write multiple essays, participate in the interview process and deliver a three-minute speech highlighting the impact of their club experience.