Success Stories: Knowing you've made a difference… makes it all worth it!

Sandra Gonzalez 2002 & 2003 Youth of the Year, State Representative Aaron Pena & BGCA staff

Sandra Gonzalez can be described in one word, survivor. Born the thirteenth child out of fourteen children to alcoholic parents, Sandra encountered many hardships and managed to prevail. She grew up in the housing projects and in 2000 her brother tragically passed away in a fire trying to save someone. Sandra grew depressed, dropped out of school and became a maid cleaning bathrooms, washing dishes and mopping floors.

Fortunately, Sandra found much needed support and guidance at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV. Staff members encouraged her to go back to school and to become involved. She volunteered at the Club and was soon hired as staff member, her confidence grew, she became a role model, teaching younger Club members the importance of education. She graduated in the top 10% of her class and was named the Youth of the Year for Edinburg and the South Texas Area for 2 consecutive years.

Today, Sandra attends the University of Bowling Green and was the recipient of the Edinburg Youth of The Year Scholarship & Boys & Girls Clubs Club Service Scholarship.

Joaquin Rodriguez, 2007 Youth of the Year & Governor Rick Perry

Joaquin Rodriguez knows what it means to overcome obstacles. Born in Mexico, Joaquin and his family, not knowing the English language, immigrated to the United States his freshman year of high school. Not only did he learn the English language, he graduated in the top 5 of his senior class.

A public speaker, Joaquin is known for his leadership abilities. With the support of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV, he became an active member of the Keystone Club which supports community service, a Teen Court Attorney, and was named Youth of the Year for Edinburg and the South Texas Area. In addition, Joaquin was elected President of the Keystone Club and was selected to serve on the National Keystone Club Conference planning committee.

Today, Joaquin is a student at the University of Texas Austin and is the recipient of the Bill Gates Millennium, ConocoPhillips, and Edinburg Youth of the Year Scholarships.

Jorge Ruiz 2009 Youth of the Year 3rd Runner Up & Clubservice Scholarship Recipient

Jorge knows what it is like to overcome obstacles. The doctors predicated that Jorge would never talk. Although his speech is sometimes unintelligible and he struggles to read and write, he has defied the odds. Today, Jorge is a graduate of Edinburg High School and will be attending College to gain skills to work with kids in the need of special attention, much like the Boys & Girls Clubs does.

Nadia Hernandez 2009 Youth of the Year

Nadia Hernandez knows sacrifice. For over 21 months, Nadia become a second parent to her two siblings while her father served in Iraq. Nadia is an active member of the Keystone Club & Jr Staff program and has been a club member for 11 years. Currently, she is a senior at the Science Academy and would like to pursue a degree in forensic science at UT San Antonio.

Franciso Rodriguez 2009 Youth of the Year Finalist

Frankie Rodriguez is determined. Growing in a crime infested neighborhood, he is determined to be the first in his family to graduate from high school. Currently, Frankie is active member of the Keystone Club and attends EHS and would like to pursue a degree in social work and counseling, so he can help at-risk kids like himself.