A member of the the Lake Station Boys and Girls Club has been named Indiana Youth of the Year. Jamie Cruz, a junior at River Forest High School, was selected from six candidates from the state as part of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Youth of the Year program. Cruz competed against teens from 146 Clubs across 31 organizations in 56 counties. Her journey continues to the regional contest, which will take place in early summer and consist of Club members from around the Midwest. Cruz is Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana’s fourth straight State Youth of the Year winner, following Gary’s Marcus Steele Jr., Merrillville’s Azariah Avery, and Portage’s Sanja Kirova. Cruz, who’s attended Lake Station Boys & Girls Club since she was six, accepted the award during an in-person event in Indianapolis last month.
As staff congratulated Cruz after the ceremony, Boys & Girls Clubs president and CEO Ryan Smiley applauded her for her dedication to serving as a role model to younger Club members. Smiley noted that Cruz, 17, participated in the Junior Staff workplace learning program and created the Code Blue Dance Team for girls at the Lake Station Club. “Jamie’s positive attitude and ability to lead others is admirable,” said Smiley. “She really does embody the characteristics we hope to inspire in our youth.”