The selection of the Red Mountain Branch Boys and Girls Club youth representative for the annual Youth of the Year competition was a difficult choice, as the candidates had presented varied and different types of qualities. Both candidates, Lane Yazzie and Rosemary Acosta, have been long time members and continued to be involved in the Boys and Girls Club over their school years. Along with numerous candidates from other clubs, Yazzie and Acosta submitted essays and were interviewed by Boys and Girls Clubs staff. The choice for this year’s Red Mountain Branch Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year representative was Lane Yazzie.
Yazzie will represent his club at the Greater Scottsdale Boys and Girls Club Blue Door Gala on February 28 at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort. He will be among eight other Scottsdale representatives chosen to represent their respective clubs. The one who is named Youth of the Year for Greater Scottsdale will compete in the state competition and have the opportunity to progress to the national Youth of the Year event. (The Youth of the Year candidate for the Lehi Branch was announced in an earlier edition of Au-Authm Action News).
At the Blue Door Gala, the finalists will share their personal stories about the positive impact the Boys and Girls Club has had on their lives, as well as showcase their presentation skills, leadership qualities and winning spirit, as they vie to be chosen as Youth of Year, the highest honor given to a member of the organization.
To fully comprehend the significance of the actions and leadership skills each of the Red Mountain Club candidates engage in, one must understand some key points about the character and personality of both Lane Yazzie and Rosemary Acosta.
A Profile of Lane Yazzie
Lane Yazzie and his family are part of the Navajo Nation. Yazzie is the current student body president at Salt River High School, and he has been a part of different student council groups since seventh grade at Salt River. He shared, “I love the school so much, because of how they are so supportive of the students. I am going to be so sad to graduate, because I grew up here, learning [about the Community] …. Also, growing up in the Boys and Girls Club has helped me with my leadership development.”
Throughout his school years, Yazzie has been involved in many activities, such as choir, the cheer club and the cross-country team, serving as captain. He emphasized, “I enjoy cross-country; running as a Native [person] is in my heart, and the [natural] high I get from running is amazing. It is a good stress reliever from all my daily activities. I am carrying on a tradition.” During his senior year, student council activities have taken up most of his time.
Yazzie’s long-term goal is to major in hospitality and management, including event planning, and he would possibly like to work for a Native American casino. He is hopeful he will be accepted at San Diego State University (SDSU), where he will continue his education. He has other college acceptance offers already and is just waiting for a response from SDSU so he can make his decision.
Other aspects that shape Yazzie’s personality include music and food. He enjoys listening to indie alternative music because “it is not overplayed [commercialized].” He stated, “I love the different songs and the [music] beats. I like [the band] Vampire Weekend, because the music beats are very soft and soothing.” He added, “My favorite place to eat is Chipotle [Mexican Grill]. I’m a vegetarian, so I like the regular burritos, plain ones, without meat. I eat a lot of ‘salad between bun’ sandwiches, and boy, I love cheese pizza! There is a lot of food out there that is vegetarian friendly.”
A Profile of Rosemary “Rosie” Acosta
Rosie Acosta is a senior at Mountain View High School in Mesa. She is a tribal member from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and resides with her family in the Canalside neighborhood. She shared, “I grew up with a big, big family.” In addition to her parents and three brothers, she has a lot of relatives.
“I am a very outgoing person; I have great patience, due to working with kids. My biggest dream is to become a chef/baker. After graduating from high school, I want to go to Scottsdale Community College to get my certificate in culinary arts, as well as [continue on to] get a B.S. in business and finance.”
Acosta reflected on her experience at Mountain View High School, adding, “The first year at Mountain View I felt a little out of place. I had a stereotyped image of [Caucasians]. But I got into basketball and softball … and it really opened me up to a new environment. I love it there now! It’s going to be sad to graduate.”
The elements of music and favorite foods that have influenced Acosta’s life are based around her family experiences. She commented, “I love Chinese food! I [also] cook a lot at home, from ce:mait (tortillas) to frybread. And from my dad’s recipes, I cook a lot of posole and menudo; I cook a lot [of food] for my three brothers and parents—my bothers eat a lot!”
Acosta explained her taste in music by offering the following: “I idolize Johnny Cash—the tone of his voice, and how he puts his life story into his music. I got into Johnny Cash because of my grandparents [Margaret and John Wilson], including listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival. When I was little, we would just sit around and listen to music. I loved to hang around with [my grandparents] on the weekends. I also like rock, hip-hop, blues and country, as well as symphony because it is very relaxing.”
Both Yazzie and Acosta came to this place in their lives, competing to become Youth of the Year, from different angles. Yazzie stated, “This is my fourth consecutive year trying for Youth of the Year. I was encouraged by Angelica Gonzales, an alumni member from the club. She explained what Youth of the Year was, and I felt I wanted to try for it. I also was told it was like a college application, writing essays, getting recommendations; I thought it would help me with my writing. I really like writing. I have gotten other awards, but this award is like a scholarship and leadership award, which would be a big award to win.”
Yazzie continued, “Over the four years, [I believe] every year I learned more about myself, my moral character, and learned to improve myself. [I learned] to be more happy and energetic, to socialize and network and make good contacts. Also, not to be like the stereotypical image of Natives, quiet and shy. A lot of Natives do want a higher education; we what change for our people.”
For Acosta, her path to becoming a Youth of the Year candidate was different. She indicated she was “chosen and encouraged” to try to achieve this award. She jokingly stated, “And, I wanted to try and beat Lane!” She added further, “It was very hard for me, because I have a slight speech impediment. Getting up and speaking to people was very scary, but, by getting to know the people, I got used to it. Getting chosen [to compete], it felt very good to know they trusted me, to put their club in my hands [as their representative].”
Through this experience, Acosta stated, “I learned to be patient with myself, not to rush what I say, because when I am nervous I rush [my speech]. I learned to calm down and calm my nerves. Getting to know other people was really good, and it pays off. I received two awards, one for being an outstanding participant and an award for [exhibiting] an outstanding personality! Getting to know people really brought the best out of me.”
George Lee, teen coordinator for the Red Mountain branch, remarked, “Lane is very passionate, a hard worker and dedicated…. I believe the sky is the limit for him.” He added, “Rosie has so much potential. She is a very outgoing individual. Everything is just right in front of her…. She is very inspiring to her peers and staff.” He summed up by adding, “This is the reason why they were chosen to compete for Youth of the Year.”
Addressing the youth of the Community, Acosta adamantly stated, “Be yourself. Don’t let anyone change who you are. Really listen to what adults and others are trying to say to you, and most importantly, stay in school. I slacked for a couple of years, and I paid for it with summer school. Stick with the [Boys and Girls] Club because it gives you a lot of opportunities that you may not be able to have—the club prepares you for your future.”
Yazzie advised, “[To] Native youth today, join a Boys and Girls Club, because it was one of the biggest impacts in my life; it sparked my interest in leadership… Teenage years are hard, but you can overcome it and make it through if you are true to who you are. Work your hardest, because it will pay off in the end. Know that the Boys and Girls Club will always be there and will do everything they can do to support you. Your grades do matter, so focus on your education…. College is out there for Native youth—it is reachable, just shoot for it!”
It appears that the Red Mountain branch is helping to develop some future Native American leaders.