Special to the Herald Press
BRISTOL - For one local young lady, overcoming tragedy seems to just be the beginning of a career focused on success, civic service and a journey to make a positive impact in the world.
Brianna Parker, 18, recipient of the Boys & Girls Club of Bristol’s 2021 Youth of the Year Award was named the Connecticut State Youth of the Year, May 6, as part of the Connecticut State Youth of the Year competition held at the Boys & Girls Club of Bristol location.
“I’m super excited about the award and proud of myself,” said Parker. “I’m happy to be at this club and to experience something so amazing. It was great to win the first award but then I got (to receive the state award). It’s an awesome feeling to just know that I have a lot of people that support me and I know that I can do great things here.”
Parker said she has been a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Bristol since she was nine years old. She said she spends a majority of her time in the club and feels she has a good relationship with all the staff and volunteers there.
“I’ve participated in almost every program we have at the club,” said Parker. “From robotics, Cooking Club, Keystone to Torch Club and more.”
To be recognized for both the Bristol club and state awards, Parker said she had to write three essays, answer interview questions as well as give a public presentation. The next levels of competition include a regional and national platform.
“I’ve definitely learned a lot about leadership from the club,” said Parker. “Before I was very shy. It’s helped me become more outgoing and understanding of other people’s situations and to just be a part of my community.”
Parker said that the program she feels that may have been the most impactful on her is the Keystone Club program within the Bristol club. Members volunteer for civic service projects in the community and she said she “highly recommended” the program for those searching to learn social skills and leadership.
Parker has studied HVAC at the E.C. Goodwin Technical High School and was recently accepted at Central Connecticut State University where she intends to prepare for a career in social work.
“I want to become a social worker in the future and definitely to work with children because I feel that’s the best thing for me,” said Parker.
In one of Parker’s essays, she said she wrote about the challenges of having a mother who passed to addiction and how her club experience helped build her as a person and to overcome the challenges of her life.
“The club helped distract me from everything going on in my life,” said Parker. “I want to make the world a better place.”
The award recipient said she wanted to help families and individuals overcome the challenges of substance abuse, to help with recovery and assist children in coping with feelings of trauma.
Parker credited Boys & Girls Club Program Director Nicole Stere in helping her develop into the person she is today.
“She’s definitely my number one supporter,” said Parker.
Stere described Parker as a true “Club Kid” and that she has taken advantage of all the opportunities presented to her during her time with the Boys & Girls Club of Bristol. The program director lauded Parker as a role model for those in the club and in the greater Bristol community.
Parker currently works at the club’s front desk and plans to continue associating with the organization as she works through her upcoming college career.