Nakayla English was named the 2024 Georgia Youth of the Year. She was in competition with 22 local winners from across the state. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News
Nakayla English was named the 2024 Georgia Youth of the Year. She was in competition with 22 local winners from across the state. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

Davidson student named Georgia ‘youth of year’ by Boys and Girls Clubs

One week.

That’s all Nakayla English’s grandmother asked of her. Try the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Augusta for a single week, and if she didn’t like it, she didn’t have to go back.

“I agreed to the deal. I did a week and loved it,” said English, a John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School senior, who was named the Boys and Girls Clubs’ Georgia’s 2024 Youth of the Year Feb. 27 in Atlanta.

She started at the club in eighth grade at the urging of her best friend with the help of her grandmother. She said the club, with its programs and the relationships she’s developed, has helped her transform into a butterfly, which she calls her spirit animal.

That metamorphosis is the crux of a speech she’s given multiple times on her journey to becoming both the local and state youth of the year.

“I feel the Boys and Girls Clubs has prepared me for my future because not only have they helped me in my academic achievements, but they have also helped me find my passion and built my leadership and helped with public speaking, so I know how to  network and find opportunities that I need in being able to have the voice to say ‘this is what I want to do’ and keep doing it,” she said.

English is a member of the Keystone Club, designed to developed leadership as participants focus on academic success, career preparation and community service, according to the Boys and Girls Clubs’ website. She’s also served as its president and as a mentor.

She said she enjoys working with younger club members, teaching them, helping them find the things they are passionate about in life and encouraging them to realize “they can do anything they put their minds to.”

She also volunteers in other areas of the community such as her grandparents’ church food pantry twice a month, Rise Augusta and the Successteam Youth Council.

English wants to be a physician’s assistant. She hasn’t decided where she wants to attend college. She’s been accepted into more than 40 colleges. Through her award, she’s already earned $20,000 in scholarships at the local level and an additional $7,000 for the state title.

Her next stop is the regional competition.

English is only the third competitor from Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Augusta to win the State Youth of the Year competition. The late Barry Davis won in the late 1980s – when the organization was still Boys Club of Augusta – and Nataffe Lee won in the late 1990,” according to a news release.

Amisha Webb, the club’s college and career program coordinator, said English has worked hard to get where she is and has made a difference.

“The biggest impact that Nakayla on us as staff is she’s always passionate about letting others know ‘This is what the club has done for me, and I want to take what the club has done for me and put it into my community,’” she said.

Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News and Inspiring: Women of Augusta, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at charmain@augustagoodnews.com. Sign up for the newsletter here.

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