City Youth of the Year champ gets state nod

NASHUA – A Nashua teen named Youth of the Year by the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Nashua in March won the same honor at the state level this week.

Danelis Alejo was named the New Hampshire State Youth of the Year at a ceremony at the Capital Center for the Arts in Concord Wednesday.

Alejo, an 18-year-old senior at Nashua High School South, won based on a series of essays she submitted, plus an interview and speech given to a panel of judges, she said.

“It feels great,” Alejo said. “I was very overwhelmed when I found out, but I was very grateful.”

Alejo’s list of community services she’s volunteered for is long and includes the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program, the Keystone Club and the Los Amigos Group.

She’s the 12th Nashua Youth of the Year to win at the state level in the last 14 years.

Now she’ll compete at the regional competition in New York City for a $10,000 scholarship and a chance to compete at the national level in Washington, D.C., for a $15,000 scholarship.

Alejo, after continuing her community service and working full-time this summer, plans to study business and possibly psychology at Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y., in the fall.

Alejo is one of 12 club members who were named the club’s Youth of the Month last year and was automatically entered into the local Youth of the Year contest. She was one of six other winners who submitted applications, gathered letters of recommendation and was interviewed by two independent panels before being selected.

Alejo’s brother, Randy, a 17-year-old South junior, was another of the finalists for the Nashua Youth of the Year.

“I’m just really proud of her. We’re just proud of each other. There’s not a lot of negativity between us,” Randy Alejo said in March.

Tracey Jackson, the club’s individual services director, has known Danelis Alejo for about five years since she started visiting the club.

“She’s extremely responsible and mature,” Jackson said. “She’s an excellent role model.”

Youth of the Year candidates have to be dedicated to the club, have to have overcome challenges in their lives and be a role model to younger club members, Jackson said.