COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - She is a young woman who admits she's come out of her shell and has become a leader.
Kaitlyn Leigh is one of the four finalists for the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Chattahoochee Valley's Youth of the Year award.
Kaitlyn, a junior at Jordan High School, got started at Boys and Girls Clubs during her elementary school years.
"I got involved in it about seven or eight years ago when one day, my dad got tired of us sitting around the house," said Kaitlyn. "I was shy and didn't know many people there."
Now, she goes to the club on a regular basis volunteering whatever needs to be done and socializing. Kaitlyn says she's a changed person.
"I do things on my own. I have friends now. I'm very outgoing, I made good decisions," the Youth of the Year finalist said.
She loves working with younger kids at the Boys and Girls Club in Columbus. Kaitlyn also stays busy with academics with dual enrollment at Columbus Tech and extracurricular activities at school, from learning military skills to being on the yearbook committee.
"It's just fun to create your yearbook out of the whole school," Kaitlyn said. "In ROTC, I can be a leader and show people lower than me how to become a leader."
She's learning and teaching how to be respectful and dedicated. This teen says she understands the struggles others go through and helps to provide perspective when she can.
"People feel like they're in a bad situation and it's not going to get better for them. Just say hey, don't worry about it, your situation is going to get better," Kaitlyn said about giving advice. "I tell them to make good decisions. You'll only be a child for a little while. You have to grow up."
Kaitlyn said the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Chattahoochee Valley have helped her be more reliable and it means a lot to her to be a finalist for Youth of the Year.
"It's once in a lifetime you get a chance like this to let people see and recognize you for you," she said.
Kaitlyn said the most important thing is to be yourself.
The Boys and Girls Club of the Chattahoochee Valley's Youth of the Year will be announced this Thursday night, Feb. 15. We'll feature each of the finalists this week on News Leader 9 morning and on our news at 5:30 p.m.