Cha’Ya Grant credits West End House with empowering her to develop confidence, self-awareness, and leadership—all qualities that she will need as she pursues a career as a Black female trombone player in a white, male-dominated field. Cha’Ya graduated from Boston Arts Academy in June and is now in her first semester of her freshman year at Berklee College of Music.
This past spring, Cha’Ya was selected as West End House’s Youth of the Year (YOY) winner and went on to compete in the Massachusetts Youth of the Year contest—Boys & Girls Club of America’s annual competition that recognizes outstanding leadership, service, and academic excellence among club members. Cha’Ya’s application talked about her involvement with the Making Change Crew, a social justice program at the West End House designed for teens who want to be changemakers.. “It gave me the voice to do something useful and speak out to our community about the problems we are facing and what we can do to fix them,” she said.
At the statewide competition, each YOY nominee had to make a 3-minute speech and complete an interview with a panel of judges. Although Cha’Ya did not advance to the national competition, she gained more confidence through the experience and enjoyed meeting other youth from across the state.
“Cha’Ya is someone who you can always depend on. She embodies the values of Youth of the Year—leadership and empathy, and I have watched her grow into a confident young woman”, says Carleen Colin, WEH Leadership and Career Development Manager.