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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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An Extraordinary Girl On An Extraordinary Path
by Brandi N. Montreuil - Tulalip News

Samantha Marteney elected to represent Tulalip in national competition

TULALIP – Every year Boys & Girls Club of America elect one youth who demonstrates extraordinary leadership in their community and family, and possesses a strong moral character, to be Youth of the Year. This year, Tulalip's own Samantha Marteney has been chosen to represent the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club in the club's premier recognition program for young people.

Marteney will join hundreds of youth across the nation for a chance to receive $61,000 in educational scholarships, be named National Youth of the Year, and meet the President of United States.

Nominated by staff at the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club, Marteney will compete with 18 other youth, ages 14 to 18, chosen by other Boys & Girls Club's in Snohomish County to be elected Youth of the Year. If elected in local competition, she will then compete state-wide for the title of Washington State Youth of the Year and receive a $1,000 scholarship and be eligible to compete in the regional competition. Five regional winners will be elected and each will receive a $10,000 scholarship and a chance to compete on the national level. The National Youth of the Year will receive an additional $50,000 scholarship and is installed by the President of the United States.

At age 16 Samantha Marteney is already making an impact in her community. As a long time Tulalip Boys & Girls Club member she is a mentor to younger club members and staff say she is a pillar of support for youth struggling with school stress.

"I recall a few situations where she would just grab a small group of kids and start teaching them dances and gymnastics," said Tori Torolova, teen coordinator for the club. "Just her presence around the club in the last couple of years; she seems more like one of our junior staffers, more than just a club member. The younger members look up to her for guidance, because she is a leader."

Throughout the year, club staff silently observes youth who demonstrate positive service to the club and it's members, exhibit strong moral character and life goals, and show progress in their academics.

"I was surprised that they chose me," said Marteney. "There are a hundred other kids that come here that are respectful and helpful, and I never thought they would pick me, but I am thankful."

"When I was little I always thought I was dumb. I always felt I was behind on everything. But coming here, Chuck Thatcher and Antonia and Jenne Ramos, they taught me that nobody is dumb, you just have to break through your challenges."

As part of the local and regional competitions, Marteney will go before a panel of judges to discuss her life goals and how she helps her community.

"I want to work with special needs kids. That is where my heart is. I want them to know that they are smart and they have something to give," said Marteney. "The club has given me so much. It's fun to come here and it's a positive place to be. I love teen night, it's a place where we can hang out and have fun."

Snohomish County Youth of the Year will be announced in February, 2014.

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