When Rylie Grissetti joined Tooele’s Boys & Girls Club 12 years ago, a staff member predicted she would be successful in the future. It turned out to be an accurate prediction and more.
Last week, the 18-year-old Tooele High School senior was named 2017 Youth of the Year by the Utah Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs. It was a first for the Tooele club that opened its doors in 2003. The announcement was made by Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser (R-Salt Lake City) at a Feb. 8 awards breakfast at the state capitol. Grissetti received a $5,000 scholarship.
“I didn’t know how much the club was going to change my life or the positive outcomes the club would make on it,” Grissetti said. “When I was younger, a club staff member told me that I will be an anomaly. I have been able to achieve greatness despite the odds. It’s who I am. I’m an anomaly thanks to Boys & Girls Club.”
The Tooele club selected Grissetti as its candidate for the Youth of the Year, and then she was selected to compete for the state honor by the Greater Salt Lake club. She then competed against winners from Northern Utah, Weber-Davis and Utah County clubs.
Tooele club director Darlene Dixon said she is elated by Grissetti’s success.
“In my 32 years with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salt Lake, I have never met a youth who tried for success quite like Rylie,” Dixon said. “She is diligent in her endeavors and strives to overcome obstacles that may get in her way of reaching her goals. We are so proud of her.”
Amanda Hughes, director of development for the Great Salt Lake club, echoed those sentiments.
“She never gives up, even in the face of adversity or perceived failure, she keeps trying to reach her goals and to be better,” Hughes said. “She is determined and smart, as well as being fiercely compassionate and kind. She loves her friends and family, and she loves the Boys & Girls Club. She is the perfect young ambassador for our programs.”
Grissetti also received Tooele City’s Mayor’s Youth Recognition Award at Wednesday’s city council meeting. Some of her achievements and successful traits were mentioned at the meeting. She was nominated by Dixon and THS counselor Michelle Bolin.
Communities that Care Director Heidi Peterson mentioned Grissetti’s efforts in helping to provide Christmas dinners for over 40 families in the Tooele area last December, her service as a senior class officer, and her work tutoring students at THS.
“She tries to do everything she can to help her family out and her friends when they need her,” Peterson read to the audience at the council meeting. “She seems to love everyone and gives generously. She loves animals and wants to turn every stray into her best friend whether they are affectionate to her or not. She goes out of her way to cheer up family and friends when they are sad.”
Grissetti was selected Utah Youth of the Year by a panel of five judges.
“I had to give a speech, submit essays and was interviewed by the judges,” she said.
Grissetti stressed the importance of self acceptance, and not being persuaded to judge yourself harshly by comparing yourself to others, which can be a problem through social media.
She will compete in a regional Boys & Girls Club competition in July with a possibility of reaching the national competition later in the year in Washington D.C.
Grissetti holds a 3.8 GPA at THS, and also works part-time at Apollo Burgers and Nigh-Time Donuts. She plans to pursue a degree in biology at Dixie State University and then attend medical school at the University of Utah with a goal of becoming a neurosurgeon.
According to a news release, Boys & Girls Clubs have been serving kids in Utah for 50 years. In 2016, 18 clubs served over 244,000 kids in 12 Utah cities through membership and community outreach. Clubs provide programs in three areas of impact: academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles.
According to Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the organization’s mission is “To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”
Fifty-seven percent of club alumni say the club saved their lives.