The traumatic, painful experiences in Tyanna Tribbett’s young life might have caused others her age to react in the most destructive ways. But to this confident, positive 18-year-old, giving up was not an option.
That confidence comes in no small part thanks to the good fortune of having an aunt who recommended that Tyanna join the Boys & Girls Clubs. Today, just four years after first entering the doors of the Dover club, Tyanna has been named the State Youth of the Year.
It’s no small accomplishment.
Tyanna completed a lengthy application, took part in multiple interviews, and devoted four months to writing and rewriting her personal story about struggles and resilience that she would deliver in June to a panel of judges.
Each year, one exceptional young person, chosen from one of the 42 Boys & Girls Club locations in Delaware has the opportunity to become National Youth of the Year.
After an intensive selection process, the Dover High School graduate, who is known for her positive, helpful attitude, was chosen the winner among eight finalists. She will go on to represent the organization in regional competition later this year.
Tyanna’s poignant story, the impact the Boys & Girls Club (BGCDE) has had on her life, the fact that she did not allow her circumstances to undermine her school work, her work with children, and her development as a public speaker collectively propelled her to such a significant honor, one she could not have imagined a few years ago.
Tyanna emerged as State Youth of the Year due in great part to her extraordinary perseverance and helpful spirit that uplifts many other teens and children at BGCDE who have faced similar situations.
Just one year into the teen program, Tyanna became a bit of a standout at the Dover club. Her leadership acumen and kind-hearted ways earned her high marks from the staff, who offered her a job as a Junior Youth Development Professional at the center. Since the fall of 2017 she has devoted time to the teen center and childcare program, where she assists children after school with homework and activities.
Dover Childcare Director Beth Inter says, Tyanna is a pleasure to work – both responsible and reliable.
“She’s very well-liked by everybody here. And she’ll do anything you ask her to do. For as young a person she is, she has an incredible work ethic, which I think is not only a testament to her family and to her, but also to her involvement with the Boys and Girls Club teen program,” says Inter.
In her heartfelt acceptance speech at the State Youth of the Year Awards Ceremony, Tyanna explained in a genuine way how she found herself at a crossroads just as she was entering high school.
“The environment that I was in was a little toxic. There were a lot of horrifying things going on and I still live around this environment,” said Tyanna. “My mother, the person I needed to guide and protect me turned out to be the eye of the storm. She fell victim to drug abuse. My brother and I spent very little time with her. However, when we did it was time spend locked in a room with her for hours at a time.”
Her uncle was also brutally murdered – shot five times – by a family member.
It was at that time that she happened upon the Boys & Girls Club. It served as the tipping point for her life. It was there that she found the acceptance, support, guidance, and opportunities to make constructive, healthy choices.
“Being introduced to the Boys and Girls Club was like a wakeup call. It was also a miracle. Because I know other people who live in other developments worse than me, and they don’t have the Boys and Girls Club to guide them the way the Boys and Girls Club guided me,” she said.
Most importantly, the opportunities presented to Tyanna included helping others and working with younger children, many of whom face hardships similar to hers.
Those opportunities led to leadership opportunities in her Boys & Girls Club, including Keystone President, a club within the Club that focuses on community service. As Tyanna shared in her dynamic, joyful Youth of the Year speech, the difficulties in her life no longer have a hold on her. She likened her life to a flower blossoming and says she now defines herself in a wholly different way.
Tyanna plans to enroll at Delaware State University in the fall and will major in education, with a minor in psychology. She plans to be a school counselor.
Tyanna was awarded a $2,500 scholarship from Boys & Girls Clubs of America, $2,500 scholarship from Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware and $1,000 scholarship from Johnny Janosik World of Furniture to go towards her Delaware State University college tuition in the fall.
A primary purpose of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year competition is to select a national spokesperson for the organization and for the youth of America.