AUSTIN, Texas — Deyanira Burns is the new Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Austin.

Burns, 17, was nominated by her club leader. She was presented the award on Saturday afternoon at the new Home Club for the Boys & Girls Club.

“The club means the world to me and my experience has been unimaginable,” Burns said. “It's something irreplaceable. It's a family; it's become my family. The club in itself has become who I am today, and it's really – I could say it saved my life.”

Burns takes classes at high school as well as at Austin Community College. She also is on her school’s dance team. The award recognizes club members who have outstanding leadership, service, academics and healthy lifestyles.

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“For me, it's just me being me. I don't see everything that they've described me as, so for me it was ... a moment where it made me realize that I deserved to get nominated,” Burns said.

She wrote three different essays as well as a speech for the award, which she was selected for by three judges.

The award comes with a $10,000 scholarship, which Burns said will help her pursue her dream of becoming an English teacher.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America have presented the Youth of the Year award annually since 1947. It’s the highest honor to be bestowed upon club members.

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