The City of Las Vegas recognized outstanding youth leaders at the annual Batteries Included Youth Achievement Gala.
In this teen leadership program, these local student leaders learn skills and strategies, through mentoring, for college and career success and the effort to reach their full potential.
The 2019 Honorees are:
Christian Ward, Leadership Award recipient
Jordan King, Education Award recipient
Joseph Collier, Career Development Award recipient
Da’Shyla Caeser, Arts Award recipient
D’Aria Pitts, Emerging Leader Award recipient
Las Vegas Academy Environmental Stewardship Award
Canyon Springs High School – Community Engagement Award recipient
Mayor Goodman was on-hand, and told honorees, “Each one of you has such a great opportunity ahead of you because you have already accomplished so much.”
The 2019 Mayor’s Award went to Legacy High School Senior, Katie Membreno, who told me, “It felt like a dream come true.”
Membreno has been a part of many clubs such as speech and debate, orchestra, national honor society, SOT, the SBSAC and currently serves as the Batteries Included teen ambassador. She added, “Being in the program really branched me out to even more things out in the community, I would say that the club probably made me the person I am today.”
Membreno’s long-term ambitious plan, “my dream goal is to become the first woman President of the United States.”
She might even have the support of former First Lady Michelle Obama who, upon hearing of Katie’s dream, told her she’d have her vote!
Another honoree, Christian Ward, who won the Leadership Award described hearing the big news, “When I got the word back I was just excited, I was jumping around, I just had to call and tell somebody so I called up my brother I got the award! She has been able to transcend what has been a tough road at times, “I think the biggest change for me was following the wrong crowd.”
Ward’s first step to turning things around, was being willing to try mentorship, letting community leaders offer a helping hand. “At first I was closed…I didn’t want to talk to anyone, didn’t want to deal with anyone when I became open and realized I needed help and took the help from my mentors then I started doing better. You have to be willing to accept change and want change you have to want it before it can happen.”
Those mentors that helped guide him inspired Ward to now do the same. Christian’s community work has allowed him to meet a number of leaders – most notably, when he was part of a panel with President Obama a bucket list moment!
“It was amazing, my soul left my body I saw him and I didn’t believe it was him,” Ward added.
Next up for Christian, college and then the Police Academy. He wisely summed it up this way, “It feels like the journey is about to begin. High school is just a small part of your life.”
Batteries Included has 16 sites located in community centers and high schools across the valley, with the ultimate goal of increasing graduation rates, reducing the number of disconnected youth, and mentoring the next generation of leaders in our community.