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Birmingham teen named Alabama Youth of the Year

Albert Chege easily remembers his introduction to the Boys & Girls Club of Central Alabama.

“I started when I was 8 years old,” Chege said. “My parents needed somewhere for me and my brothers to go. The Boys and Girls Club was the best option because it was nearby and the buses from the Boys & Girls Club could pick me up from school. It was the perfect place to go. I’ve loved it ever since.”

Chege is wrapping up his 10th year at the Boys & Girls Club of Central Alabama in a big way: he’s been named the 2020 Alabama Youth of the Year by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Chege said he was surprised when he learned the news.

“I was shocked,” Chege said. “I’d been training so hard. Thankfully I was able to progress. It was really a good experience.”

Alabama Youth of the Year talks about value of Boys and Girls Clubs from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Chege is a graduate of Shades Valley JCIB High School, where he was a member of the National Honor Society and the school’s German Club. He competed online against 10 other youths across the state. He said writing essays and delivering a 3-minute speech were his favorite parts of the competition.

“I liked writing the essays and showing the judges who I am,” Chege said. “Speech was also a great experience because I was showing everyone my true self.”

By being named state Youth of the Year, Chege receives a $10,000 scholarship from the Beverly Burton Memorial Trust and a $2,500 scholarship from Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He may compete at the regional level for additional scholarships and a chance to be named the National Youth of the Year for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Chege credits his mentors, friends and previous winners for helping him.

“I can’t do this without those around me,” Chege said. “They’ve meant so much. They’ve been with me since the beginning. Their guidance has been really great.”

So what’s next? Chege is enrolling at the University of Alabama at Huntsville this fall to study computer engineering.

“I’m going to be able to be a cyber-security specialist or a software technician,” Chege said. “I’ve always wanted to create a translation device. My parents are from Kenya and my grandparents still live there. They don’t speak to English, so for me to talk to them I have to have my parents there to translate and those can be surface-level questions and answers, so I think this computer science degree and computer engineering degree will help me make this a reality so people can always communicate with their loved ones.”

(Courtesy of Alabama News Center)

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