- Post 16 August 2011
- By by Ken Thomas
- Hits: 347
Yolandis McCaskill has overcme a number of life challenges, including a crash that nearly cost the 18-year-old her life.
But now MCaskill has been named the 2011-12 Midwest Region Youth of the Year by the Boys & Girls Club of America and is one of five who will compete next month for the National Youth of the Year title in the nation’s capital.
“Yolandis is an inspiration to all of us,” said James Keane, CEO and President of BGCC. “Not only has she demonstrated tre-mendous dedication and leadership skills, she is a testament to how perseverance and a focus on the future can help a young person surmount any obstacle.”
The national title is the highest one offered to a club member. According to the organization, the recognition celebrates youth who “overcome enormous odds and demonstrated exceptional character and accomplishments.” McCaskill, who is the first Midwest regional winner for BGCC in 16 years, received $11,000 in scholarship money.
“Many of the students I grew up with are either locked-up in prison or dead,” said McCaskill, who grew up in the East Garfield Park community.
She survived a 2009 automobile crash after being thrown through the windshield. She took a semester off from school and returned with renewed focus.
McCaskill was valedictorian of the Providence St. Mel School class of 2011, where she maintained a 3.9 GPA. She was an officer in the National Honor Society, received the Illinois State Scholar Certificate and the school president’s scholarship award. She also participated in the Worldwide Young Scientist and Engineers program and Summer Opportunity of A Lifetime. Additionally, she was a member of the volleyball team and played clarinet in the band.
She is headed to University of Notre Dame in the fall, where she will study biomedical engineering.
As a regional winner, McCaskill has a chance to meet President Barack Obama at the White House and receive an additional $50,000 scholarship.
Copyright 2011 Chicago Defender