COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - It's the highest honor for our local boys and girls club and this Thursday, one deserving teen will be named "Youth of the Year."
The program recognizes outstanding contributions the teen has made to their family, school, community and the Boys and Girls Club.
Here's a look at one of the four nominees and the personal challenges she's overcome.
At 18 years old, Caleshia Ferguson is preparing to graduate from high school on time this spring. This may seem like a normal milestone for most young people, but for Caleshia, it's the result of raising the standards and going beyond what is expected of her.
"It can get hard sometimes, when you don't know all your work and you need some help, you go talk to the tutor, just get some help," she said.
Freshman biology was a particular struggle for Caleshia and almost kept her from staying on track. But she found the help she needed with the tutors at the Boys and Girls Club, and has been able to keep up ever since.
"It's a lot of people that care, like you don't just have one person, you have plenty of staff trying to help you out," she said. "Trying to, you know, be there for you."
Now, Caleshia doesn't just go to the Boys and Girls Club to get help for herself, but to be a helping hand for others.
"They have helped me so much, so I just feel like it's probably somebody else there who needs help, and I can help them, because they was there to help me," she said.
Most days, Caleshia can be found at the club volunteering behind the desk, or mentoring the little kids. She encourages staff members to give her more opportunities to develop her skills as she prepares to go to college at Albany State University.
No matter what happens next, Caleshia says she wants the Boys and Girls Club to continue to be a big part of her life as it has been so far.
"I was there at 10 years old, and I'm 18, and I'm still here," she said. "Like, I'm gonna be here til I can't come back. Or, you know, try to be a staff member, you know, just to be there for the kids, because I know how it feels to have somebody there when you feel like you ain't got nobody."
The Boys and Girls Club with host the "Youth of the Year, Stars of Tomorrow" event this Thursday night at 7 p.m.
Our own Jason Dennis will host this at the National Infantry Museum. On Tuesday we will reveal our second of the four teen nominees.