Justiana started attending the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix when she was in sixth grade. During her first year, she earned the recognition as Kid of the Year and went on to graduate from her grade school as the valedictorian. Her dedication earned her a scholarship to St. Mary’s High School and this year she will represent the Gabel Branch for the Youth of the Year Program.
Q. How long have you been going to the Gabel Branch?
A. I started attending the Club when I was transitioning into fifth Grade. My first Club was the I.G. Homes Branch but I transferred to Gabel when I started high school. I was excited to go to the Clubs when I started; it meant I had to take more responsibility and get on a bus and leave school for the first time.
Q. What activities or programs are you a part of at the Club?
A. I am involved in the Keystone Club and Leaders In Training Program. While at the Club I like to play volleyball and basketball, and I hang out with my friends and work on homework. I’m even the coach of the flag football team!
Q. How has the Club helped you in other aspects of your life – school, at home, sports?
A. The Club has helped me to develop good habits. I have easier access to computers there. The Power Hour helped me develop good study habits and there’s tutoring for me. It’s helped me earn good grades now and I have a good work ethic in school. Education is important and the Club made that important to me too.
Q. What advice would you give to younger kids about succeeding in life?
A. When I first started playing basketball, I was the only girl on the team. I’ve tried to teach other younger girls to try out sports, even if there aren’t as many girls there. I’m involved in lots of the clubs and I think it inspires other younger kids to get more involved in the clubs we have. There are so many opportunities here and we should give them a try.
Q. What’s your favorite thing about attending the Club?
A. I really like the volunteer projects with the Keystone Club. We are trying to do projects in our neighborhood like cleaning different areas, painting over graffiti, and giving water and supplies to the homeless.
Q. What would you be doing if you didn’t have the Club?
A. My neighborhood can be rough. I’ve found that I can step away from bad influences that I might find in my school or neighborhoods. And I can enjoy being a kid there.
Q. What are your plans for the future?
A. I’m hoping that I can attend college at University of Arizona. Since I was in seventh grade, I have wanted to help find a cure for Lou Gehrig’s disease. It has impacted my family and I want to become a neurologist so I can help stop this disease.
Q. What’s your motto?
A. No high, no low, just go!
Justiana Carabajal is a senior attending St. Mary’s High School and attends Warner and Shirley Gabel Branch.