A senior at Carson High School, Sarah Barragan has been a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Western Nevada since the age of 7. A candidate among seven nominees for Youth of the Year, Sarah is the winner for 2007.
"I have no idea why I was selected," she said. "Maybe it's because I stand out more."
Sarah, 18, is proud to say she is a teenage mom. Her daughter, Shianne, is 11 months old. She admits being a teenage mom is a challenge, but it's also a blessing. But the one thing she would not ever give up is her opportunity to finish high school.
"When I was pregnant, I stayed in school, and had her during spring break. Being a mother and having a child is not an excuse to just drop out of school. It's been the best thing for me and her.
"I have little goals for myself. I'm working on my senior project and had to pass a proficiency test, which I did. I'm proud of myself."
Boys & Girls Club Director Hal Hansen, said Sarah has participated in everything available at the club and has been a leader in most of the activities she's participated in.
"We're very proud of Sarah as a representative of all our members," Hansen said. "She overcame a lot of challenges in her young life.
"But she's still a role model for kids that you can overcome challenges."
Sarah was nominated by a staff member.
"Sarah and the other nominees are very worthy of this honor," Hansen added.
Hearing about the club from her two older brothers, Sarah couldn't wait to join. She has learned the fine art of painting on canvas with oils and acrylics. She has entered art competitions and was a finalist several years ago. She said the staff are like family to her.
"I've always said the club is my second home. If I have a problem I can't go to my mom with, there's staff there to talk to. I can go to each one of them for something different - their different personalities are great. My choices are wide open, and I trust them."
It was also through the Boys & Girls Club Sarah learned the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
"I learned about them at a young age," she said. "I've lived my life drug and alcohol free. I chose not to go that route. I've seen what it does to people, and some of my friends. I chose not to live like that."
Sarah encourages other youth to not be discouraged by obstacles in their life; not to let these obstacles keep them from obtaining their goals.
"Though I have a baby, I'm not stopping. I have kept going. I can become a better person and still dream. I can continue with everything."
Sarah said being Youth of the Year has already afforded her opportunities. Several members of the board of directors for the club have offered to pay her tuition at the University of Nevada, Reno, and the cost of her books and supplies.
"I was in shock," Sarah said. "First one said they would pay tuition for me, then another and another. It's fantastic, I can go to school and not worry about tuition.
"I want to major in pediatric nursing. The club taught me to be a caring person and to help out in the community. I would be good at it, and it would be rewarding for me."
• Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1223.