Hard work paying off for top Dundee Boys & Girls Club award winner
By Erin Sauder For Sun-Times Media December 23, 2013 11:34AM
Ricardo Paniagua being recognized by Carpentersville Village President Ed Ritter during the Dec. 17 Village Board meeting. Paniagua was named the Dundee Township Boys & Girls Club 2013 Youth of the Year. | Submitted
Updated: January 25, 2014 6:16AM
DUNDEE TWP. — A great kid. A great example. A great leader.
Those are the words being used to describe Dundee-Crown High School senior Ricardo Paniagua, and the reason he was named the 2013 Youth of the Year by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dundee Township.
Selected from four finalists in the program earlier this year, Paniagua earned the award and a $5,000 scholarship sponsored by GoldMax in recognition of his academic accomplishments, leadership skills, perseverance, moral character, and service to his Boys & Girls Club and community.
“He has a great head on his shoulders,” said Boys & Girls Clubs of Dundee Township President and CEO Curt McReynolds. “We’re proud of him. He’s going to go a long way.”
Paniagua, a seven-year member of the club, holds a 3.4 grade point average and is in the top 25 percent of his class. He is president of Boys & Girls Clubs of Dundee Township Keystone Club, the youth leadership group at the teen center; and serves as a junior staff in the organization, working two days a week at the Meadowdale Elementary School site in Carpentersville.
Paniagua has been recognized at several recent community events for his accomplishment, including the Northern Kane County Chamber of Commerce inaugural Community Service Award celebration in November and a Carpentersville Village Board meeting in December.
Paniagua appreciates the award and said “it feels good to be measured up.”
“As youth, you do have to put in a lot of hard work to show everybody else it is worth it to be part of the community,” he said.
Paniagua said his parents have encouraged him since middle school to aim for college. He said he struggled early on in high school academically and credits his involvement with the Boys & Girls Club for helping him to bring his grades up.
“I’m actually now a part-time student at Elgin Community College also,” he told attendees at the Community Service Award celebration. “Ever since I was in middle school, my parents would say, ‘You have to go to college. You don’t want to end up like us where you have low-income jobs.’ Coming into college is going to be a really big thing for me. And I wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for the Boys and Girls Club.”
The club has also helped him overcome another challenge.
“Shyness is one of the biggest problems I’ve had ever since I moved to Carpentersville, and to overcome it is one of the biggest things I’ve ever done,” he said. “I really thank the Boys & Girls Club for helping me do that.”
Paniagua now has an opportunity to compete at the state, regional and national level of the Youth of the Year program.