Haven is a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Happy Valley Middle School. She has been attending the Boys and Girls Club for the past two years and she has made a big impression on the staff.
“She is so intelligent, but also diligent and a leader. She’s her own person and she isn’t afraid to show that to people,” said Jessica Canter, a youth development professional who has worked at the club with Haven. A press release announcing Haven’s selection as Youth of the Year said she is known for her maturity and intelligence.
The title is not the only time Haven has been a winner at the club. She has stood out in the club’s guitar club. This program, led by volunteer John Bland, gave club members the opportunity to learn how to play the guitar. At the end-of-semester performance, Haven was awarded a new guitar and named Most Dedicated Player. When presenting her with the award, Bland spoke of Haven’s work ethic.
“She is the person who stayed late to practice and who went above and beyond every expectation, but she is also the person who would volunteer to help her peers. I can’t think of anyone who would be more deserving,” Bland said. Because of her hard work and leadership, Haven will serve as an assistant for the beginners’ class once the guitar club starts back.
The guitar is not the only musical instrument Haven plays. She also plays saxophone and is the only tenor saxophone player in the Happy Valley Middle School band. Haven said she likes a variety of different styles of music.
But her accomplishments at the club were not the deciding factor in winning the honor of being Youth of the Year. It took a lot of work.
“First, I had to write three essays,” Haven said. After writing her essays, she had to compose a speech combining elements from all three essays and other topics into a speech.
Haven hasn’t yet taken any speech courses in school, but she has experience doing reports in front of her class.
Her work and speech paid off and she was named Youth of the Year. The club said the honor “celebrates teens whose club experience has empowered them to find their voice and achieve success. The Youth of the Year title is the most prestigious club honor bestowed upon a young person.”
In a press release issued by the club, Haven said “the Boys and Girls Club has become almost like a second home to me. It helped me come out of my shell and express myself. If I had never come to the club, I would have never met my best friends. I would never have had those experiences. It’s really helped me grow as a person.”
As part of the honor of being named Youth of the Year, Haven will also take a trip to Nashville, but that is not because of her love of music. She will be traveling with club leaders to participate in various Youth of the Year activities. Because she is still in middle school, Haven won’t be participating in the state Youth of the Year competition until next year, but she will get the chance to meet with other Youth of the Year winners from clubs across the state, visit with her state representatives, practice new leadership skills and see Nashville from a different perspective.
Haven is just as hard working in her academic pursuits. While she is still only in middle school, she has already made mature choices about her career objective.
She is an A student and hopes to attend Duke University. She would like to become an experimental psychologist.
“I don’t want to fade into the background like a chameleon or disappear from history as someone who didn’t accomplish anything. I want a legacy as an inventive and imaginative person. I want to make a difference in the world.”