PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - When Mikayla Lowry and her family were moving away from her alcoholic father in Mesa, she found a safe place with the Boys and Girls Club in west Phoenix.
Ten years later, she was named her branch’s 2019 Youth of the Year and won a $100,000 scholarship.
Lowry, now 17 years old, said the club helped get her out of her shell, and she wouldn’t be where she is today without the organization’s help.
“It’s made me a better person as a whole,” Lowry said.
The Boys and Girls Club has been with Lowry through the ups and downs. She recalls when her dad passed away in the eighth grade.
“I remember telling my mom that all I wanted to do was go to the club,” she said. “So I can get everything off my mind. Not sit at home, thinking about it.”
Lowry was chosen as the Youth of the Year at the Spencer D. & Mary Jane Stewart Branch in west Phoenix. Every year, the organization chooses multiple teens that exemplify great leadership skills.
She also won a $100,000 college scholarship by Beyonce and JAY-Z’s foundations, BeyGood Initiative and the Shawn Carter Foundation.
“It was a weight I didn’t want on my mom’s shoulders, figuring out how to pay for my college,” Lowry said.
Lowry is currently dual-enrolled at Estrella Mountain Community College and will graduate with a completed associates degree.
She hopes to pursue a degree in either marine biology or forensics at Grand Canyon University or Northern Arizona University. She will be the first person in her family to attend college.
The Boys and Girls Club of Metro Phoenix offers after-school and summer programs to more than 20,000 children and teens.
But Lowry said that the organization is much more than a daycare.
“If it wasn’t for the club, I wouldn't be the type of person that I am,” Lowry said.