Abrianna Johnson, 17, a junior at Akron’s Archbishop Hoban High School who is planning a career in nuclear physics, has been named Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio’s 2020 Youth of the Year.
The nine-year Club member, who had earlier been named Youth of the Year for Boys & Girls Clubs of the Western Reserve, edged out two other competitors to capture the honor in the first-ever regional competition. Jayla VanHorn, 17, Cleveland’s Youth of the Year, finished second, while Lorain resident and Avon Lake High School graduate Mikayla Mitchell, 17, was third.
Abrianna now moves on to the regional competition, which will take place virtually.
“It feels great,” she said. “I get to help my community on a larger scale. I am honored.”
Abrianna is planning a career in nuclear physics, and Ohio State University currently tops her list of prospective colleges.
“She is a really talented, quiet girl with a smile that will brighten any room,” said Anthony Isom, director of the Eller Teen Clubhouse, the Club Abrianna attends. “She is also a very hard worker.”
Abrianna enjoys art, especially anime, and learning about the cultures of Asia and Africa.
“I would recommend the Club to kids for so many reasons,” she said. “If you need help with your homework, there are people there to help you. If you are hungry, there is a free meal. You will also make a lot of friends. It is like a second home.”
Second-place finisher Jayla is an aspiring sports journalist who has had shadowing experiences with Fox Sports Ohio, cleveland.com and mlb.com’s Mandy Bell. Mikayla, who is now attending Lorain County Community College, is planning a career in forensic psychology.
The Youth of the Year competition is one of the Club’s signature programs and is open to all members ages 14-18 who meet academic standards and are involved in community and Club activities. Abrianna will now complete against other youths from Boys & Girls Clubs throughout Ohio.
Through the Youth of the Year program, young people showcase their talents and achievements, share their hopes and dreams, and work toward a bright and positive future. Candidates emerge through year-round recognition programs in their local Clubs, progressing through state and regional events, culminating in a weeklong celebration in Washington, D.C., where one is named the National Youth of the Year – the highest honor bestowed upon a Club member.
Boys & Girls Clubs provide safe, fun places for kids ages 6-18 after school. Clubs focus on healthy lifestyles, academic success and character development. BGCNEO, which was formed by the 2019 merger of Clubs in Cleveland, Akron, Lorain County and Sandusky, now has 39 locations in five counties.