Don't like to read?
UCAN hosted its 23rd Annual Youth Leadership Awards (YLA) on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, to honor Chicago youth from the West Side. The YLA event typically awards seven recipients with scholarships for higher education. This year, a total of nine young people were honored at the event.
This year’s recipient pool is made up of three similar awards. Ya’Natika Morgan is the 2022 John E. Rooney Dynamic Scholar. She is a senior at Devry University Advantage Academy High School working toward an associate’s degree in business.
The Steans Family Youth Leadership Award winner is Chiagozie Onyewuchi, a rising senior at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. He studies economics and computer science and hopes to one day make his mark in the technology industry. Onyewuchi was joined by three other winners: Isaiah Spears, Colby Boyd, and Kyla Ann Osborne.
Spears currently attends Depauw University and hopes to pursue a master’s degree in Educational Leadership in Higher Education or Strategic Leadership Development someday. He is interested in social justice and passionate about LGBTQ and BLM activism.
Boyd is a junior at South Shore International College Prep High School, looking to pursue a career in physical therapy. She is concerned with young people’s mental health and wants to continue to advocate for their well-being.
Osborne has been on UCAN’s Youth Peace Council and has participated in gun violence and racial healing panels. She plans to attend the University of Michigan to study political science and hopes to become a politician one day.
More YLA Winners
The rest of the winners came from the Comprehensive Undergraduate Success Program. The recipients are Deja Burell, Diamond Neal, Antwaun Wade, and Anthony Ezeanyim.
Burell studies business at Lincoln University in Missouri. She hopes to own her own business, which will be a great help to people in the future.
Neal has aspirations of achieving her master’s degree in architectural engineering. She participated in multiple programs at UCAN in the past and won the agency’s Future Leader’s Night Youth.
While the event is meant to showcase upstanding youth, two adults were also recognized for ongoing support in at-risk areas. Jeff and Julie Diermeier received the John D. Nichols Award for their philanthropic efforts.
An Event Well Done
The 23rd annual YLA event was a resounding success. Overall, a total of $827,150 was raised during the many rounds of fundraising. Each youth spoke with confidence and answered questions with the community in mind.
Onyewuchi gave a speech about the importance of networking, opening up to more people, and getting outside one’s comfort zone to succeed. Burell, Neal, Wade, and Ezeanyim presented a panel about how they got through challenging times.
Spears, Boyd, and Osborne echoed the recurring leadership theme for the event by talking about what it meant to be a leader.
UCAN will continue to bring sporting more youth in future YLA events. Each year proves that the community has a future to look forward to. This past event was just a yearly reminder.
UCAN is a social service agency working to equip youth that comes through its doors with opportunities to better their future. It continues to be a lifeline for countless underrepresented communities in Chicago. The agency has a presence in areas like North Lawndale and Evergreen Park. As a non-profit, the organization uses charity events to help fund its activities. The premier event is the Youth Leadership Awards (YLA) fundraiser held every June for the past two decades. The fundraising rounds range from $100 to $10,000, allowing people of all means to participate.
Written by Chiagozie Onyewuchi
Edited by Sheena Robertson
UCAN: 23rd Annual Youth Leadership Awards newsletter
Block Club Chicago: ‘Kids Who Suffer Trauma Can Become Our Future Leaders’: West Side Teens Score Scholarships, Leadership Awards
UCAN: 2016 Awards Dinner Highlights Youth Achievement
UCAN: The road to the Youth Leadership Awards Dinner (2017)
All Images Courtesy of UCAN – Used With Permission