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State Youth of the Year? She’s from here

Post by Matt Misterek / The News Tribune on April 10, 2009 at 1:55 pm with No Comments »
April 10, 2009 1:55 pm

Lincoln High School senior Christney Kpodo was honored by Gov. Chris Gregoire as Washington State Youth of the Year in a ceremony this morning at the Governor’s Mansion in Olympia.

We introduced you to 17-year-old Kpodo in a TNT article last month, after she was named Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound.

She then went on to face 13 other Boys & Girls Club members from across the state Thursday at Qwest Field in Seattle where, instead of soccer balls and footballs, the competitors were tested in rounds of interviews and speechmaking in front of a panel of judges. Later that evening, all 14 finalists gave their speeches one last time in front of family, friends, Boys & Girls Club staff and supporters.

Not until this morning did Kpodo find out, in front of an audience of state VIPs, that she was the statewide winner. She was presented a $1,000 scholarship from the Reader’s Digest Foundation and $1,000 from the Washington State Alliance of the Boys & Girls Clubs. All told, she has received $5,500 in scholarship money since the process began.

Kpodo is a four-year member of the Boys & Girl South End Branch in Tacoma. She has completed 600 volunteer hours, organized many community service projects and received the Gates Achievers Scholarship Award for her academic success and extracurricular involvement. She plans to attend Pacific Lutheran University and work toward a law degree.

Next up she will represent Washington at the regional level, with a berth in the national competition in Washington, D.C. at stake.

Kpodo told the TNT last month that she credits a strong Christian faith as well as perseverance gained after a serious ankle injury about four years ago led to eight surgeries and other procedures.

“I believe the Boys & Girls Club is what gave me the confidence to speak out and to be comfortable in my own skin,” Kpodo told a TNT reporter.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound benefits 13,150 children and teens at eight branches and 14 outreach sites in Pierce, Mason, and Kitsap counties. For more information, call (253) 502-4600 or go to the organization’s website.

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