The Celebration of Youth Awards is the YMCA’s way of recognizing outstanding members of the next generation.
Winners, who earn a cash prize, are selected for their commitment to community, being good role models for and excelling at what they do.
Over the summer The Journal has featured 14 Sarnia-area winners, each of whom exhibits the values of caring, honesty and responsibility. These are the final two.
Jessica Vickerd McMurray Family Award
Jessica is an impressive individual who has volunteered willingly to foster goodwill, mentor others, and exhibited maturity in a difficult family situation.
At SCITS Jessica has been involved in many diverse activities: Student Council, sports photographer for the basketball team, jazz band and concert band. She also became involved in a fundraiser to help a fellow student with a serious illness.
Jessica organized a life bus so students from SCITS could donate blood.
Jessica has accumulated over 250 volunteer hours. She participated in events for the Inn of the Good Shepherd and her church, collected coats for Sarnia’s homeless, helped with Operation Christmas Tree, pancake breakfasts, Murder Mystery dinners, and organized garage sales.
At church, she plays piano and saxophone and helps with Christmas pageants and Vacation Bible camps. Mentoring other youth and utilizing her music credentials, Jessica also teaches music at Van Goozen Music.
Overcoming the loss of two family members in a difficult circumstance has been a challenge for Jessica. But she used it to mature and grow.
“This has allowed me to better understand mental health, and I now am able to help my friends if they are going through a difficult time,” she said.
Jessica’s stellar academic record and work ethic assure her success after high school in a life sciences course at university next year.
Anastasiya Vinokurtseva – Celebration of Youth Committee Award
Anastasiya has an impressive academic and extracurricular record at Northern Collegiate, including national and local achievement in French, science and mathematics. What is truly remarkable is she has done all this while learning a third language, English.
Anastasiya and her family emigrated from Russia to Quebec in 2009 where she quickly became fluent in French; another move to Sarnia necessitated learning English.
“This allowed me to learn a lot about myself, the world, and people in different regions,” she said.
Self-awareness and confidence has enabled Anastasiya to volunteer in the community and participate in numerous school clubs. She has been a peer mentor to help make her school more welcoming, and has gained satisfaction volunteering at Bluewater Health. Anastasiya has been accepted into the Medical Sciences Program at the Western University, and plans to pursue a medical career with Doctors Without Borders.
Anastasiya’s academic honours are impressive. It includes national recognition, an Ambassador Award in the ‘French for the Future’ competition, high standing in the Cayley and Galois Mathematics competitions, and one of the top academic averages in her graduating class.
One of Anastasiya’s referees said that she is “enthusiastic, responsible, self-motivated and kind.” These qualities, combined with strong interpersonal skills and academic brilliance, ensure future success and make Anastasiya Vinokurtseva an outstanding winner of the 2014 Celebration of Youth Committee Award.