She may not be going on to compete nationally, but that doesn’t mean Adrianna Henderson isn’t a winner in the eyes of the kids she works with on a daily basis.

Henderson, a senior at Horizon Community Learning Center, was a top four finalist in the Boys and Girls Clubs 2012 Arizona Youth of the Year awards. When the winner’s name was called out at a ceremony on Tuesday, in front of a crowd at US Airways Center, it wasn’t her name that fell on hundreds of ears.

“I think that everyone was hoping to win,” she said. “You didn’t know what was going on in that envelop (with the winner’s name inside).”

Anthony Wimberly of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tucson ended up as the winner of scholarship money and a trip to the regional competition in July. Henderson won the Boys and Girls Clubs of the East Valley’s Youth of the Year award in February, which she took home after being named to represent the Thunderbird Branch, which sits just across Interstate 10 in Guadalupe.

She will most likely be heading to Arizona State University next year, to follow her vision that involves working toward a degree in kinesiology and a career in sports medicine, and she won’t be going empty-handed. For winning the East Valley title, Henderson, 18, will collect up to $20,000 in scholarship from the Victoria Lund Foundation over the course of her four-year college career.

“It seriously was the best experience of my life,” she said. “The biggest part of it was I got to meet new people, which I love. Going into the Boys and Girls Club, I never knew I would be in this position. It was a step higher than a mountain.”

She has worked directly with kids and it is obvious she has made an impact in their lives. When Henderson went into work after coming up short in the state awards, she was greeted with smiles and words of encouragement, she said.

“They said I was still a leader even though I didn’t win state,” Henderson said. “They wanted me to keep that in mind and gave me congratulations that I am still a leader to them.”

She works part time at the Thunderbird Branch after being a volunteer and as part of the Leader in Training Program, throughout her high school years. Henderson will continue to be directly involved with the East Valley Boys and Girls Club until February 2013, when they name her successor.

“I’m still representing the club and I’ll be speaking to teens and other kids through the summer, talking about this experience and my experience overall,” she said.

Henderson credits the work she put in for the multiple awards, including essays, speeches, and group interviews, as preparation for the next steps in her life. She can use what she has written for college and said she has no doubt that her experience public speaking and being interviewed will be beneficial in the long run.

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