Local Student Named Pennsylvania Youth of the Year
High school junior recognized for her accomplishments in STEM by Boys & Girls Clubs
PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (May 9, 2022) — Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania (BGCWPA) regional winner, high school junior Paige Frank, recently won the statewide level of the national competition. BGCWPA held their annual Youth of the Year competition in March, selecting Frank and sending her on to the next tier of the contest.
Youth of the Year is the signature effort of Boys & Girls Clubs from the local to national level, to foster a new generation of leaders, fully prepared to live and lead in a diverse, global and integrated world economy.
Frank, 16, has been involved with BGCWPA programs since the summer before her freshman year of high school when she started attending the PPG Artificial Intelligence Pathways Institute (AIPI) summer camp, part of BGCWPA’s STEM programming. She recently co-led an app design team to win the local CGI I.T. Girl Challenge last May. She co-created an app, inspired by the isolation many students faced during the pandemic, that makes it possible for students to connect with one another for academic and social support.
Prior to involvement with BGCWPA STEM programs, Frank dreamed of going to cosmetology school and becoming a hairstylist.
“When I started AIPI I wasn’t too interested,” Frank said. “I was actually nervous because I didn’t have a clue about what AI was. But after a couple of days I just loved it. It was like a switch went off that made me realize this is what I should do.”
“We are proud of Paige for her brilliance and for putting that brilliance to work in a way that both builds her skills and benefits others,” said BGCWPA President & CEO Lisa Abel-Palmieri. “At BGCWPA, we invite youth into the adventure of learning so they can dream big and work toward their goals with guidance from supportive adults and innovative programs. Paige is a great example of that and she will make an excellent representative for BGCWPA as she moves to the state level of the competition.”
Frank hopes to attend Carnegie Mellon University to pursue a degree in computer science. STEM fields have been historically underrepresented by women and she has plans to launch a nonprofit entity called Girls Closing the Gap. Her vision is a program similar to Girl Scouts but with a STEM focus. She wants to support and encourage girls to design and sell useful apps instead of cookies to fund their participation in computer science and robotics competitions, for example.
“My overarching goal for this entity is to encourage the next generation of women to pursue a career in any area of STEM,” said Frank. “I want to primarily focus on younger girls to give them a vision of who they can be.”
Frank was chosen because of her accomplishments and industrious, entrepreneurial spirit, but also because of her character. Her aim is not only to succeed but to strengthen her community and encourage others, helping them to see their vision through and succeed.
“Paige is a wonderful representative for BGCWPA and the entire Pennsylvania state alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs,” said vice president of advancement and philanthropy Jessi Marsh. “She is a talented young woman and she reflects what BGCWPA programming is all about – helping youth discover their passions and providing tools and opportunities so they can activate and advance their full potential.”
BGCWPA offers many programs for youth of all ages from after school programming to summer day camp. Also available is STEM exposure for younger students and specialty STEM programs in artificial intelligence, robotics and more for teens. To find out more, visit bgcwpa.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org