NC Youth of the Year
Emanuel Acosta: 2015 North Carolina Youth of the Year
Emanuel “Manny” Acosta, has been on a 12 year journey that has resulted in his selection as the North Carolina Youth of the Year, a journey that included the Boys & Girls Club of Henderson County, which he shares really changed the course of his life.
Emanuel entered elementary school as a shy boy who only spoke Spanish at the time. He struggled to learn English, which further contributed to his shyness. Often coming home and just lying around his house, his dad took notice and encouraged him to really work to make more of his childhood. He remembers his dad telling him that “the choice is yours to be happy.”
Emanuel took that encouragement to heart and began to seek out opportunities to improve his situation, which included joining the Boys & Girls Club before starting high school. He recalls first being impressed by the Club facility and then the Club staff. He allowed the Power Hour program to help him improve his grades, Career Launch program to help him gain work skills for the future and Smart Moves program to help him make good decisions regarding substance abuse and sexual activity. He joined the Keystone Club and learned to give back through community service projects – he has provided 446 hours of service so far! He is currently a paid employee of the club as a Junior Staff, where he has learned to be a mentor to the younger members and lead program activities. The Club is not the only place where he has pursued opportunities to improve himself.
He attends Henderson County Early College where he takes courses at the high school and community college. In spring 2016, he will graduate with a high school diploma and an Associate’s degree. His current weighted GPA is 4.2, ranking him 12th of 39 students in his very select class. Emanuel shares that he now tries to complete most of his homework at school, to leave plenty of time to be at the Club. He said he could never stop going to the Club “because it is one of the very few places where I can be happy and feel safe after school.” He goes on to share that “I use the club as the main motivation to keep doing my homework and studying. Since my freshman year, my grades have gone to A’s and B’s.” Emanuel currently is planning to seek a criminal justice degree after graduation and pursue a career in some level of law enforcement.
Emanuel said of the state title. “My Club believed in me, and this belief has helped me do extraordinary things. It has stretched me and challenged me. I’m more confident every day and more prepared to represent my Club well.”