The Treasure Valley Family YMCA is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2021 YMCA Civic Engagement Scholarships: Elisa Puga from Caldwell High School, Braeden Watkins from Columbia High School, Trinity Nixon from Skyview High School, Claire Shelton from Centennial High School, and Charlee Andree from Boise High School.
“It is a great honor to grant these scholarships to four very worthy young people in our community,” said David Duro, Treasure Valley Family YMCA’s President and CEO. “This year we were able to award $32,000 from the scholarship fund. I am confident that this investment will provide amazing returns to society. The YMCA Civic Engagement Scholarship is a key component to the YMCA’s mission to develop successful youth, engage people in healthy living, and instill a commitment to social responsibility.”
Elisa is a passionate activist for Latina representation in the STEM field and for the voices of People of Color in the public sphere. As a member of the Caldwell Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council, she has advocated locally and at national levels for more awareness and support for higher education opportunities for first generation students and students from under-represented backgrounds. She recognizes that immediate financial need often compels these students to forgo investment in their future. Through her current leadership in fundraising and advocacy efforts she hopes to change the trajectory of their lives. Elisa will graduate from Caldwell High School and plans to attend Seattle Pacific University.
Braeden is a budding politician who is determined to foster a government that is responsive to the needs of people who struggle to be heard. He has served as the Vice-Chairman of the Nampa Mayor’s Teen Council, interned in the Nampa Mayor’s office, participated as the youth representative on the Nampa Chamber of Commerce Joint Council on Business and Education. Just one of the measures he has promoted is a city proclamation for Youth Mental Health Awareness Week including a video to highlight needs and opportunities for help. In each endeavor Braeden’s goal has been to give voice to teens who are “often denied a seat at the table”. Braeden will graduate from Columbia High School and plans to attend American University.
Trinity combines her interest in medicine with a passion to reform the healthcare system to help the community of people with special needs. Her extensive experiences in her school’s Extended Resource Room, and in her school’s Interact Club have given her direct involvement with people of diverse needs, many of whom have limited access to wrap around services. Her dedication to community service includes inspiring others to engage people across the spectrum of life circumstances, citing that “There is so much you can learn from one interaction with a person.” Trinity will graduate from Skyview High School and plans to attend The College of Idaho.
Claire’s motto is “Try new things and get involved.” She has demonstrated this in a variety of activities, most notably as she has risen through the leadership ranks of the Meridian Future Farmers of America Chapter, now serving as its President. Claire’s other passion is for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation where she has served as a Youth Ambassador, raising funds for research and traveling to Washington D.C. to speak to members of the U.S. Congress. Claire will graduate from Centennial High School and plans to attend University of Idaho.
Charlee is an educator by lineage and heart. She loves learning about new cultures, especially via her engagement with refugees in our community. Her involvement with Boise High School’s Humanitarian Club, Global Community Partners and the International Refugee Committee includes helping foster social connections between refugees and our community, and encouraging young refugees in their formal education. She has also volunteered in the Y’s RISE program to teach low income and New American youth how to swim, which is an important skill for developing resilience and self-confidence. Charlee will graduate from Boise High School and plans to attend Colorado State University.