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Father Convicted, Grandmother Murdered: Grants Pass Teen Rises Above to Become 2019 Youth of the Year

In her competition speech, she shared that her father was convicted of murder when she was young. Her grandmother was murdered in a drug-related traffic accident. Her mother's boyfriend was injured in a drive-by shooting.

Posted: Feb. 7, 2019 6:40 PM

GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- A Grants Pass High School sophomore is the 2019 Youth of the Year by Boys and Girls Clubs of the Rogue Valley.

The club says this is a prestigious honor that recognizes leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to a healthy life.

This is Jade Poulain's second year winning this award, and will now compete at the state level in Salem in March. If she wins, she'll compete for the title of Pacific Region Youth of the Year and an additional $10,000 in scholarship, renewable for four years up to $40,000. 

Five regional winners will advance to Washington D.C. in September 2019 to compete for the National Youth of the Year distinction. That comes with a $25,000 scholarship, renewable each year up to $100,000. 

Poulain's childhood wasn't an easy one. In her competition speech, she shared that her father was convicted of murder when she was young. Her grandmother was murdered in a drug-related traffic accident. Her mother's boyfriend was injured in a drive-by shooting. She says she moved to many towns out of safety concerns, eventually ending up in Grants Pass. 

She says she joined the Boys and Girls Club to receive some stability, and says it's played a huge role in who she is today. She also says she's not letting her past influence her future.

"I'm using it as motivation to become a better person and pursue what I want to do," Poulain said.

She plans to attend college and major in law or criminal justice. She plans to use scholarship money she received this year to attend a camp at Stanford this summer to learn more about becoming an attorney.

"[I want] to come part of the Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force," Poulain said. 

The $1,000 scholarship was from the Grants Pass Kiwanis. Lonnie Johnson, a group member, said he's amazed by all the students that compete for the title each year.

"I was totally amazed by the kids sitting at the table and encouraging one another," Johnson said about the competition night. "That's a culture you don't find very much in today's society."

To learn more about the Grants Pass Kiwanis, CLICK HERE. 

To learn more about the Boys and Girls Club, CLICK HERE.

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