Todd Curtis
Jeniya McCullar, 16, of the Capitol West Boys & Girls Club, was named the 2018 Utah Youth of the Year during an awards breakfast at the Utah Capitol on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018.

SALT LAKE CITY — Jeniya McCullar, 16, of the Capitol West Boys & Girls Club, was named the 2018 Utah Youth of the Year during an awards breakfast at the Utah Capitol Thursday.

Youth of the Year is the highest honor a club member can receive, and Jeniya competed for the title against candidates from other Boys & Girls Clubs across the state. He will receive a $5,000 scholarship and will represent Utah in the Pacific Region Youth of the Year competition later this year.

Jeniya, who is a junior at the Salt Lake Center for Science Education, has been a member of the Capitol West club for 12 years. Raised primarily by his great aunt and adoptive parents after substance abuse and violence separated him from his mother, Jeniya found a second home at the club.

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“Ever since I could remember I’ve always had the Boys & Girls Club there to support me and teach me the value of morality and knowledge,” Jeniya said in a statement. “I know if it wasn’t for the club I wouldn’t have been able to connect emotionally with my adopted parents. The Capitol West Club helped me learn how to socialize with adults there. This without a doubt changed my life for the better.”

Upon graduation in 2019, Jeniya plans to attend the University of Utah and study astrophysics to pursue his goal of working in aeronautics.