When Madison Memorial senior Riyaaq Ahmed came to America from Kenya as a middle schooler, she knew she’d need a support system — which she found in the Boys and Girls Clubs of Dane County.
“They provided me with a good support system and a family I could lean on through every situation,” she tells Madison365. “They also gave me a lot of other opportunities, like an internship program that opened my eyes to a lot of different career paths. They taught me a lot of leadership.”
She’s put what she learned to good use as the founder and president of the Muslim Student Association at Memorial and a future nursing student at Edgewood College.
And all the opportunities paid off big today, as Ahmed was named Wisconsin Boys and Girls Clubs Youth of the Year.
Ahmed was named Dane County Boys and Girls Clubs Youth of the Year last month, and today went through a rigorous series of interviews and gave two speeches, along with 14 other youth from 142 clubs across the state. She will now be the first-ever member of the BGCDC to represent Wisconsin at the regional competition in Chicago in July. If she wins that, she’ll be on to nationals with a $145,000 scholarship in her sights.
The statewide award comes with more than $30,000 in scholarships. Runners up also received scholarship funds, which came from the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Dane County and the Milwaukee Bucks.
To all the youth coming up behind her, Ahmed urges involvement.
“The Boys and Girls Club offers so many opportunities,” she says. “I would tell them to take advantage of every single one of them. The skills you learn will benefit you in the near future.”