Next month, an outstanding Tacoma teen will travel to our nation’s capital to compete for Boys and Girls Club’s National Youth of the Year. The Lincoln High School graduate recently won the regional title. Around the Al Davies Boys and Girls Club gymnasium, 18-year-old Tae McKenzie is a legend in eyes of the club’s youngest members who look up to her. To those who’ve seen her blossom at club in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood, she’s a success. Over the summer, McKenzie was named the recipient of the 2014 Pacific Region Youth of the Year.
“Everyone I went to school with came to the Boys and Girls Club, so I started going to the Boys and Girls Club. And it’s kind of like launched everything from there,” McKenzie said. She’s transitioned from member to mentor. Raised by a single mother and helping take care of her younger siblings, the teen shares a similar background with some of the youngsters she mentors. And she’s excelled in the classroom. With her recent awards as part of the Boys and Girls Club program, she’s received over $18,000 in scholarship money. “One of my favorite quotes is,’I alone cannot change the world, but I alone, can change the world of one person,’ ” McKenzie said.
Her passions have led to co-founding a girl’s mentoring program. “Like I’ve said in my speech, I’m the first young lady in my family to graduate high school without getting pregnant or dropping out,” she said. In mid-September, Tae will embark on her next challenge, the National Boys and Girls Club competition in D.C. While there, she’ll meet President Barack Obama.