M-A High senior wins 'Youth of Year' honors


Olivia Luna, a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School, won the Northern California "Youth of the Year" title at a March 15 competition in Sacramento. She had advanced to the regional level after being selected to represent the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula as the high school Youth of the Year.

In a speech at the competition, Olivia described her challenges as a person with cerebral palsy and a difficult home life, and the opportunities she had at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula.

"Not only has Boys & Girls Club supported my personal growth, but it's given me an outlet for contributing to my community," she said.

She has volunteered as a soccer coach with elementary school students and at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula and tutored a middle school student who recently immigrated and struggles with English, said BGCP Development Director Sean Mendy.

Now Olivia will move on to the state Youth of the Year competition, set for Wednesday, April 6, at the Stanford Faculty Club.

Go to to watch her speech.

Student participating in the competitions write essays and give speeches about their challenges, achievements and goals. Each student performs at least 40 hours of community service, gathers letters of recommendation, and participates in one-on-one interviews with judges, often community or business leaders.

Olivia is one of 51 students – in grades 8, 11 and 12 – from Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and Redwood City who participated in the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula competition. Scholarships of $250 were given to finalists at each BGCP location. The top representative from each location received $500.

Olivia was named the top high school Youth of the Year for the BGCP and received a $1,000 scholarship, as did Hoover Elementary School student Lindsey Pulido, who won in the eighth-grade category. She also received a $1,000 scholarship for being named Northern California Youth of the Year.

Among the BGCP Youth of the Year mentors this year were volunteers from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Palo Alto law firm Baker Botts, and LinkedIn.

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