DOVER — In speaking with Adasia Hawkins, a sophomore at Dover High School, it is quickly apparent that she is an impressive young lady with extraordinary goals of attending Yale University and becoming an attorney.
However, perhaps the most impressive trait of Adasia’s is her willingness to give back to her community.
She has served as a volunteer at the Greater Dover Boys & Girls Club for the past four years — even during the COVID-19 pandemic — and her work was recently recognized, as she was named the George Krupanski Youth of the Year for the state among nine individuals representing Boys & Girls Clubs throughout Delaware.
“It’s an amazing recognition,” Adasia said. “I was so honored when I found out.”
The Youth of the Year title is bestowed upon an exemplary young person in recognition of leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to live a healthy lifestyle. Now in its 74th year, the program encourages young people on their future path, urging kids to lead, succeed and inspire.
Chris Basher, chief operating officer for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware, said the honor should have come as no surprise.
“Adasia is an exceptional young woman who adds a lot to our club, and, over the years, I have seen her mature and blossom,” Mr. Basher said.
The 16-year-old awardee said the Greater Dover Boys & Girls Club is like an extended family, which makes it easier to come in to work every day.
“I’ve been going here since I was about the sixth or seventh grade, and once I aged out of their child care program, I started volunteering, gaining my volunteer hours here and working with supervisors,” she said. “I volunteer in the classroom.
“When COVID-19 hit, I was standing at the little door, and I would check temperatures, and I would sign everybody in. I just like volunteering (at the club) because everyone is so sweet, and they’re so nice. It’s like a family and a community, and I love it.”
After starting her volunteerism at the Dover facility, she was chosen to participate in a teen workforce development program and, after completing 18 hours of training, she became an employee at the club, working closely with preschool children.
During the pandemic, she was looking for ways to connect virtually with her fellow teen members, so she created social media posts to keep them engaged.
Adasia said that even when she was serving as an assistant teacher with the Boys & Girls Club, she especially enjoyed taking the time to get to know as many of the kids as she could personally.
“When they were outside, I would run around with them,” she said. “When they were doing activities, I would sit down and maybe draw a picture with them, and I loved doing that because then, they will start drawing pictures for me. I actually still have some of the pictures they drew for me because they make me feel good.
“It’s funny because when I get to see them in the hallways now, they’ll be like, ‘Hi, Ms. Adasia!’ and I’m like, ‘Hi, I miss you guys. I can’t wait to get back in the classroom again.’”
She does still spend plenty of time in her high school classrooms — for her own impressive studies. She is in the Honors and Advanced Placement Program at Dover High.
“I know for a fact, for a law school, that I would like to go to Yale University,” Adasia said. “That’s been my dream ever since I wanted to become a lawyer, which was age 7. I remember my biggest memory was my grandmother would watch ‘Judge Judy,’ and I’d be like, ‘I want to be the person defending. That’s what I want to do.’
“So ever since then, when I was young, I researched colleges, and Yale was one of the main ones that popped up, and I was like, ‘I want to go there.’”
It appears that if she keeps her mind to it, she will be able to go anywhere she would like.
Adasia also received two additional recognitions during the Youth of the Year celebration — the Johnny Janosik Community Service Award, due to her number of hours volunteering at the Greater Dover Club, and the Outstanding Speech Award.
Additionally, she received $6,000 in scholarships from Johnny Janosik, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Adasia will now go on to compete for the title of Northeast Regional Youth of the Year in June and an additional $20,000 in college scholarships.
Five regional winners will then advance to Washington, D.C., in September to compete for the title of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year. The National Youth of the Year will receive a scholarship of $50,000 and will have the opportunity to meet with President Joe Biden in the White House.
Greater Dover Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Jake Getty is confident Adasia has what it takes to keep moving on.
“She is one of the teens who has really immersed herself in the club experience, taking on various leadership roles,” Mr. Getty said. “She’s been a member for four years and is a valuable part of our teen programming.
“This is the second year in a row that the Greater Dover Club’s candidate has taken the title. We have every confidence in Adasia as she moves on to compete at the regional level.”