In July 2012, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) named Mai Tong Yang, 18, an 11-year member of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities, the 2012-13 Midwest Region Youth of the Year. She receives a total of $11,000 in college scholarships from the Youth of the Year program’s national sponsor Tupperware Brands Corporation. Mai Tong was recognized as a finalist at the National Youth of the Year Competition in September 2012 in Washington DC.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Youth of the Year recognition is the highest honor a Club member can achieve. The Youth of the Year program, founded in 1947, celebrates youth who have overcome enormous odds and demonstrated exceptional character and accomplishments. These deserving young people are recognized for service to their Club and community, academic performance and contributions to their family.
The middle child in a family of 11, Mai Tong came to the United States as a refugee. Amid the new surroundings, the different lifestyle and the upheaval of the long journey, Mai Tong sometimes felt lost. All that changed when she entered the door of the Boys & Girls Club and found a place that she could call her own. Mai Tong immediately connected with Club staff members who helped her with homework and took the time to introduce her to American culture.
Over the years, Mai Tong has taken a lead role in helping others feel at home. She is a strong mentor to younger Club members. Mai Tong also assisted with the Power Hour homework help program and served as the president of Keystone Club. She served as junior staff member through the Club’s affiliation with the Minnesota State Youth Job Corp program. This position allows her to help out with her family’s expenses.
Mai Tong spent her junior year of high school in South Korea learning about the culture and language. While there, she became an unofficial student ambassador, sharing details about her life in America, her Hmong culture, and even the Minnesota winters. This intercultural experience should prove valuable later in life, as her career goal is to serve as a diplomat. She recently graduated from Harding High School in St. Paul, taking challenging International Baccalaureate courses and maintaining a 3.61 GPA. Mai Tong is currently attending the College of St. Benedict working towards a major in International Relations.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities vision is to provide a world-class Club Experience that assures success is within reach of every young person who enters our doors, with all members on track to graduate from high school with a plan for the future, demonstrating good character and citizenship, and having a healthy lifestyle. Mai Tong demonstrates the Club’s commitment to building a great future for youth in the Twin Cities community.