Hard work pays off is the mantra that made 17-year-old Anna Heath stand out from her peers to earn the Youth of the Year from the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme.
A senior at Pacifica High School in Oxnard, Heath worked to raise a 2.0 grade-point average to a 3.7 in less than two years. She has been accepted to seven of eight colleges she applied to, so far. And as a varsity soccer player, she put in extra hours of practice to ensure she started every game this year.
“My coach had told me hard work does pays off, and I didn’t really think to take it into consideration until this year,” Heath said. “I had to get my act together after stressful things that happened last year, and it really does pay off. I’ve come a long way.”
The Youth of the Year award recognizes well-rounded teens who are involved in the Boys & Girls Club. Earning the title is the most prestigious award in the organization, said Erin Antrim, the club’s program services director. Heath has been part of the club for 11 years.
“I am really happy,” Heath said. “I’ve been working 11 years for this, and I feel having the Boys & Girls Club has been the best because of everything I’ve done outside of school and in the community.”
Heath was one of four teens nominated by staff members of the Oxnard teen center. Each teen center selected nominees between ages 14 and 18. To compete, the nominated teen completed an application process similar to a college application. They got letters of recommendation, provided their high school transcript and submitted seven essays about their career goals, values and obstacles they have overcome.
They spoke in front of a panel of judges for final selection. “She is a very driven,” Antrim said. “She stands out as someone who is all about what the Boys & Girls Club stands for, and she is very involved.”
Heath is preparing to compete against four nearby cities for the area council Youth of the Year in March. She hopes to continue on to nationals. This doesn’t end here,” Heath said. “I want to go to the White House.”
Volunteer mentor Bill Powell is helping Heath practice for the three-minute speech portion of the upcoming competition. “She has a great story to tell,” Powell said. “Anything I can do to help get her to the White House. I keep reinforcing one step at a time, but keep going for gold.”
Through the Boys & Girls Club, Heath is involved in multiple programs that promote healthy lifestyles and leadership, including Triple Play, Smart Girls and Keystone. She plans to study kinesiology in college to pursue a career in physical therapy.
Heath is a strong young woman, said fellow club members Claire Benson, 17, and Glenda Guzman, 16. “She knows what she is doing with her life,” Guzman said.