UA Student Receives and Gives Back Through Boys and Girls Club
It is possible, but doubtful, that many students on any college campus know a celebrity like Denzel Washington on a first-name basis. However, if that college campus is home to the 2012-2013 Boys and Girls Club National Youth of the Year, it is more than just a possibility.
Freshman Trei Dudley recently received the highest honor given to Boys and Girls Club members nationwide. Ashanti Washington announced her as the winner in Washington, D.C. The night before the announcement, Dudley sat at a table with Ashanti and Denzel Washington. Michael Phelps was also at the ceremony.
“They’re people you hear about in the media,” she said. “It was amazing to actually be there hugging them and sitting there with them.”
She said Washington talked to her and gave her advice. He told her that what matters is what can be done for other people, rather than how much money can be made and what can be bought.
Dudley has been involved with Boys and Girls Club since kindergarten. It began because she needed a place to go as a result of her mother working two jobs, she said. Dudley said she grew up in problematic home where her mother was physically abused by her father.
“Once my mom finally found her voice and her guts, she became a single mom,” she said. “In fourth grade, I took on a lot of responsibility to help my mom out and take some stress off of her.”
Dudley had two younger siblings whom she helped take care of. Dudley said she had two amazing group members in Boys and Girls Club whom she took comfort in talking to about her problems at home.
“They allowed me to open up to them and helped me find my voice,” she said.
As Dudley got older, she wanted to be a mentor to other kids going through similar situations to what she went through.
At 16, she began working with second- and third-graders in Boys and Girls Club and did an empowerment program for young girls. Once she gave a speech, and afterward a few third-grade girls in the group came to talk with her. She said it reminded her that young children continuously go through hardships at home and need to see a positive role model in front of them, one who has lived in a similar environment.
“I was empowering other people,” she said.
Dudley also volunteered in her hometown of Lawrence, Kan., at Family Promise, an organization associated with local churches dedicated to assisting homeless families. It provides shelter, day care for small children and resources for adults to find employment.
Dudley said she felt an immediate connection with three kids the first time she volunteered at Family Promise. Because of this, she went on to become a certified volunteer with the organization.
“They’re just looking for someone to latch onto and to have fun with,” she said of the homeless children.
Dudley also participated in a program affiliated with her high school called Can We Talk in which students counseled one another and listened to guest speakers for inspiration.
“It was about bettering ourselves and finding resources to go to college,” she said.
Dudley said the group often discussed current issues that applied to them and how to stay on the right track. One guest speaker sticks out in Dudley’s mind; he was on the right track in life and made one bad decision that landed him in jail for 10 years, she said.
Dudley would like to own a nonprofit organization for troubled teens because there should be more positive places for teens to go who need help, she said. She is a member of the Walton College of Business and chose to attend the UA after hearing about its business program and falling in love with the campus.
“Everything seemed to come together to make it home,” she said.
Dudley received a $1,000 scholarship for winning the state competition for Youth of the Year and a $10,000 scholarship for regionals, both from Tupperware Brands. For nationals, she received a $50,000 scholarship from the Rick and Susan Goings Foundation and a new Toyota car of her choice.
“(Boys and Girls Club) means the world to me,” she said. “It shaped me into who I am.”