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Matthew Van Named Boys & Girls Clubs of Silicon Valley’s “Youth of the Year”

On Feb. 2 at San Jose’s Signia, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Silicon Valley recognized Matthew Van, 18, as its “Youth of the Year.” Van received $10,000 in scholarship money. A senior at Santa Clara High School, Van has also since participated in the Boys & Girls Clubs’ Northern California’s Youth of the Year Competition and will move on to the California State Youth of the Year Competition on April 17.

Van explained the “Youth of the Year” leadership development program is part of the LIT (Leaders In Training) program within the Boys & Girls Clubs of Silicon Valley. Van has been part of LIT since ninth grade. He joined the “Youth of the Year” program back in October.

Van reflected on his experiences being in LIT and the “Youth of the Year” program.


“We work on things like college mentorship and job readiness,” Van said. “Throughout high school, I have worked at the Alviso Clubhouse near San Jose and Milpitas. Our main role is to help out the adult staff members. We assist them with things and make sure all the kids are happy and are paying attention. We prepare activities and interact with the kids.”

According to Van, many of the clubhouses are centered around a local elementary or middle school. The Alviso Clubhouse is across the street from his former school, George Mayne Elementary School.

“Growing up, I was mostly a quiet student and a quiet child,” Van said. “I always thought that meant I needed to change something and be more talkative. I thought being talkative and outgoing was the key to success. Through being at the clubhouse since I was in elementary school, I learned that leaders and people who are able to give back to the community and be a supportive person don’t have to be that outgoing and talkative person.

“Coming to the Alviso Clubhouse helped me overcome that mentality that there are distinctive traits that help define what a good leader is,” Van continued. “It helped me think more outside the box.”

Van shared one of his favorite experiences being in the “Youth of the Year” program.

“The program members and I were in this one workshop where we were practicing interviews for our ‘Youth of the Year’ competition,” he said. “We were going over our club experience and practicing speeches with the other candidates. My speech was about my club experience and how the club has helped me develop as a person and set my academic interests.”

Speaking of academic interests, Van has big plans for college, where he plans to pursue a career in the health sciences.

“I’ve already been accepted and have committed to Cornell University, where I will be studying Human Biology, Health, and Society,” he said.

Mateo Espinal, 14, a freshman at Santa Clara High School, was a finalist in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Silicon Valley’s “Youth of the Year” competition. Espinal is involved in a number of activities, including tutoring students at the Alviso Clubhouse. Espinal is also active in the local youth robotics community.

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1 Comment
  1. Mary O. Grizzle 3 weeks ago

    Congrats son on your achievements. You give me hope for the future of Santa Clara

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