ECHS alumna named Southwest Youth of the Year  

She is passionate, self-driven, and always looking for the next challenge.  Zena Nazar Arocena is a 2021 Early College High School alumna who has been a part of the Boys & Girls Club of Harlingen for nine years.  

“I first became involved when I moved here from Brownsville,” Nazar Arocena said. “There is a Boys & Girls Club at Le Moyne, and I started going every day.” 

Last year, Nazar Arocena was selected as Texas Youth of the Year. This year, she made Texas Youth of the Year again, and then she was named Southwest Youth of the Year. 

“When I won for Southwest Youth of the Year, it was kind of just like ‘Whoa, I have a chance at winning at nationals,’” Nazar Arocena said. 

Youth of the Year is a Boys & Girls Club leadership development program. 

As a 2021 Southwest Youth of the Year finalist, Nazar Arocena is one in five finalists selected from various regions across the United States. The national winner will be representing the Boys & Girls Club as an ambassador, leader, and role model for the Boys & Girls Club youth and other children across the nation.  

“There are 4.6 million Boys & Girls Club kids, and you are a voice for all those kids, so it’s pretty awesome,” Nazar Arocena said. “Youth of the Year is the highest program that you can be involved in. It’s an honor to be a part of it. It’s about having a club member that represents the values of the Boys & Girls Club by having a good club experience, overcoming obstacles, and having the Boys & Girls Club mean a lot to you.” 

The Youth of the Year program has honored and celebrated inspiring teens across the nation and their incredible journeys for more than 70 years. 

“I was selected amongst 25 other candidates in Texas,” Nazar Arocena said. “I think I was chosen because when I talk about the Boys & Girls Club, it doesn’t feel like I am public speaking. To me, it’s just speaking. You are just talking about something that is so special to you, and it comes so easy to me. I am not scared to say how much the Boys & Girls Club means to me.” 

Being selected for this recognition requires involvement with the Boys & Girls Club, the community, leadership, and academics. The application process requires three essays.  

“One is about overcoming obstacles, one about your club experience, and the other one is about something you are passionate about,” she said. “I wrote about child abuse and mental health.” 

The National Youth of the Year Experience 2021 will be held on September 21. 

“I am just really excited and thankful for the Boys & Girls Club,” Nazar Arocena said. “I thank my directors, my teachers at school for supporting me. I think it’s really awesome to be a part of this, and I can’t wait to make everybody proud.” 






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