Four years go by in a flash.
When Simeon Bearden first came to the Mountain View Boys and Girls Club, he said, he was a freshman in high school, fresh up from Texas, and he made friends on the court during an evening basketball game. Now, at 18, he’s the Boys and Girls Clubs of Alaska’s 2018 Youth of the Year.
“I kind of feel like a mentor,” he said, sitting in the quiet clubhouse art room one January afternoon. “A lot of the teens my age who used to come here, they’re not really making the best decisions, so I just try to make sure the younger generation can follow in the right footsteps.”
Simeon is a senior at East High School, getting ready to graduate and play college ball and eventually earn a master’s degree in computer science. Meanwhile, he still shoots hoops with the kids at the Boys and Girls Club, volunteers in the clubhouse kitchen and does his homework in the computer lab.
But the last four years haven’t always been easy, he said. Last spring, his friend Leroy was fatally struck by a stray bullet a half-block from the Boys and Girls Club. A few weeks later, he lost a close family member. Things were hard and he slipped off for a little bit, he said; his mom helped motivate him to pick it back up. He decided to make them all proud.
This week, Simeon is set to interview with judges in the next phase of the Boys and Girls Clubs’ Youth of the Year program. He’s learned a lot since coming to the Mountain View clubhouse four years ago, he said, and if he could give younger teens one piece of advice, it would be this:
“High school does go by pretty fast,” Simeon said. “So make sure you make the right decisions and make the best use of your time.”
Update: On March 2, Simeon was selected to represent the state of Alaska in the regional Youth of the Year competition.