By Emily Sewell
For most high schoolers, managing schoolwork can be stressful enough, but for Jayla Price, a junior at Oxford High School, it is only the beginning.
Price keeps herself busy with a variety of extracurriculars including being involved in the Boys and Girls Club, serving as former president of Excel Club—a club where members work with the Exchange Club of Oxford to go out and do community service—working at Pizza Hut and competing in this year’s Youth of the Year competition. This is Price’s third time to compete (her second time as district champion) and she said she plans to come home as state champion this year.
The Youth of the Year competition is a leadership development program through the Boys and Girls Club. Each year one club member is selected to serve as an ambassador for their respective Boys and Girls Club to compete against other ambassadors in the competition. Thousands of teens compete in local, state and regional events, and then six finalists advance to Washington D.C. for a gala and celebration dinner where one young person is named as the Boys and Girls Club of America national teen spokesperson.
The state competition will take place in in Clarksdale, Mississippi March 6-8. Young men and women will travel to the town from clubs all over the state to give their speech and answer questions in front of a panel of judges in order to be eligible for college scholarships and other prizes, such as a new car or a trip to Disney World. The representatives are asked questions regarding peer pressure, the effects of social media, and their community service projects.
This year Price has made her speech based on three different essays she wrote. She said her topics include her club experience, her vision for America’s youth, and her personal brand.
Price said she decided this is her last year competing. Last year she won the district competition and came in third in the state; however, this year Price hopes to win the state competition and advance to the national competition.
“She’s a sweetheart and one thing I like about her is she’s hardworking and she doesn’t let obstacles block her from reaching her destination,” said Kenorus Wilson, her advisor.
Price said her greatest difficulty throughout the competition is having time to work on her speech and prepare. She works sometimes as late as 10 or 11 p.m. on the weekends and 9 p.m. during the school week.
“The biggest thing this year is that I have school, then I go to work and don’t have much time for this,” Price said. “I’m working on it, though. I’m trying to get through it and just pray all is well.”
Price said that she is naturally a shy person, but through her experience in the Youth of the Year competition she has learned to break out of her shell and be excited to return each year because of the welcoming environment from the other competitors.
“Everybody is supportive of each other, even when you don’t win,” Price said.
Competitors congratulate each other and continue to support each other for future competitions, she said.
Price realizes the responsibility of being the representative for Oxford and said she feels the pressure sometimes.
“It puts a little pressure on your back,” Price said. “You are going to be the voice for not only your club but the other ones in your district.”