Lincoln girl named R.I. Youth of the Year

Lincoln girl named R.I. Youth of the Year

CUMBERLAND - Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland-Lincoln member Lauren Kowalski, a 17-year-old Lincoln resident, was named the Rhode Island Youth of the Year after she placed first in a competition held at the Statehouse on April 24.

The La Salle Academy senior won top honors for her personal essays and interviews to secure her place as the state representative and winner of a $1,000 scholarship from Tupperware Brands Corporation, which will come in handy when she heads to the University of Washington in the fall to study oceanography.

Regionals will be held on June 24 in New York.

It is the first time the Cumberland-Lincoln club has had a state winner, and this was Lauren's second year being named the local club's Youth of the Year.

"Last year, I was really nervous," she said. "This year, I was a little more calm."

But the day itself was hectic. Lauren started her day completing Christian service for school and had to rush to the Statehouse for her interviews. But she had to leave before the awards banquet that night to attend her mandatory National Honor Society induction ceremony.

Luckily, she was kept in the loop with texts until she finally got the call that she had won.

"It was a crazy day, but it was fun," Lauren said.

Tamara Burman, the club's director of operations, said that while Lauren puts a lot of stress on herself, she is a perfectionist with a big heart.

Burman remembers Lauren as a 7-year-old with bangs who started hanging out at the club when her mother was program director. She got Burman ready for her own Youth of the Year competition.

Burman said she has watched Lauren "grow up and just become a remarkable young woman" who comes to the club every day after school.

"Lauren has assumed complete responsibility in aquatics," Burman said, with teaching swim lessons, lifeguarding and helping coach the Penguins swim team. "She doesn't understand how responsible she is."

The majority of the work Lauren completed to win her award centered around telling judges what the Boys & Girls Club means to her.

"Being an only child of a working single mother, I have experienced a feeling of loneliness," Lauren wrote. "However, that feeling is completely lost as soon as I walked into the Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland-Lincoln. ... A sense of family radiates through the Boys & Girls Club, whether it is through kids helping one another, to the little disputes that occur, the Boys & Girls Club represents a natural family."

She continued, "The Boys & Girls Club is an inspiration to me, and to the kids it genuinely helps. And I am glad to be a part of the Boys & Girls Club experience."