Photo courtesy of Paradise Valley Unified School District

In a story of resilience and transformation, Yarieliz (Yari) Lopez, a junior at Paradise Valley Unified School District’s North Canyon High School, has been named the 2024 Youth of the Year by the Boys and Girls Club of Arizona: Ed Robson Family Branch. This honor celebrates Yari’s extraordinary journey from surviving devastating hurricanes to becoming a beacon of hope and inspiration in Phoenix.

Yari and her family moved to Phoenix in 2019, following the traumatic hurricanes that ravaged her native Puerto Rico. Adapting to a new life in Phoenix presented its own set of challenges, and Yari initially struggled to find her place. However, her life took a positive turn when she discovered the Boys and Girls Club. There, she found much more than just activities and programs; she found a community that helped her cope with her past losses, build resilience, and gain the confidence to become the best version of herself.

At the club, Yari immersed herself in the fine arts programs, finding solace and expression in theatre performance. Beyond the stage, she enjoys studying with friends and unwinding with games of pool, creating a well-rounded club experience. These activities have not only allowed her to connect with other students who share similar interests but also played a crucial role in shaping her identity.

“I am not giving away my shot,” a quote from the musical “Hamilton,” resonates deeply with Yari, mirroring her resolve to embrace every opportunity life presents. Post high school, she aspires to join the military and pursue further education in fine arts, aiming to combine her passion with her dedication to serving her country.

Yari’s story is a source of inspiration, showing that with resilience, support, and passion, one can emerge stronger and ready to shape a promising future.