Robert Miller, of Rochester, recently took fourth place and received a $2,500 at the New York State Youth of the Year competition.
The Rochester Academy Charter School junior credits Boys & Girls Clubs of Rochester for helping him grow into who he is today. His leadership skills, good grades and well-rounded personality earned him the 2017 Youth of the Year title at BGCR.
Youth of the Year is a recognition program that celebrates the achievements of club members. One club member is selected annually as National Youth of the Year to serve as an ambassador for Boys & Girls Clubs of America youth and as a voice for youth across the nation.
Miller joined BGCR in 2012 after his friends told him about the different programs they were enjoying as members.
“I needed a place to go after school and it was close to home, affordable and provided a lot of structure and development programs kids need as they’re growing up,” Miller said. “The staff feel like a second family. They’re always checking in and showing they care.”
One of the programs Miller found most beneficial was homework help. He would come to the club and immediately go to the homework room. Sean Smith, BGCR education coordinator, not helped Miller with his studies, and Miller looked to him as a life mentor.
“Mr. Smith continues to help me make sure I am prepared for my future in college and my career, and gives me great advice on life and conflict resolution,” Miller said.
When Miller wasn’t busy working on his school work, he could be found on the basketball court or in the Sweet Dancerz’ dance studio. Basketball and hip-hop dance have always been among his passions.
Miller said he feels empowered and free on the basketball court and dance floor. The activities give him ownership and self-pride, and allow his creativity and different talents to shine.
One of Miller’s other great passions is fashion. Bullied for some of the things he chose to wear in school, Miller decided to take ownership of his style and be proud of what made him unique.
As part of his Youth of the Year responsibilities, Miller will create and execute a project that exemplifies his personal brand. His project centers around creating and producing affordable bowties that young men can wear in a professional setting to help them on the path to success.
After high school graduation, Miller hopes to either attend a SUNY college or Fashion Institute of Technology.
“I am proud to be chosen as the Youth of the Year and to have gotten so far in the competition,” Miller said. “It is an honor to represent our Rochester Club. It means a lot to be given this opportunity, and I hope to set an example and make them proud.”
Five regional winners will advance in September to Washington, D.C., to compete for the title of BGCA’s National Youth of the Year. The winner will receive a $25,000 scholarship, renewable each year up to $100,000, and will have the opportunity to meet with the president in the White House.
For information, visit youthoftheyear.org.