Victoria Price, 17, also earned a $5,000 scholarship to the college of her choice.
A girl born of adversity and raised through struggle, 17-year-old Victoria Price is an American girl unique to her own story and yet the embodiment of Girls Inc. as a whole, both locally and nationally - a fact reflected through her recent honored acknowledgments from the organization.
Price, a lifelong child of Kingsport, was selected as the 2012 Girls Inc. Regional IV Youth Volunteer of the Year (out of 40 affiliates in the entire southern region of the U.S.) and recently earned the 2012 Lucile Miller Wright National Scholarship (one of 10 chosen nationwide and in Canada).
The young lady was submitted for consideration for the volunteer award by staff members of Girls Inc. of Kingsport and applied for the national scholarship herself. Aside from the honor of being named a Volunteer of the Year, she will receive $5,000 a year scholarship to the college of her choice.
“[The national scholarship's] based on their service, their commitment to Girls Incorporated, their GPA and their community involvement, and really, writing essays about what Girls Inc. has meant to them,” said Julie Wright Short, Executive Director of Girls Inc. of Kingsport. “Victoria is one of the 10 that got a scholarship. She has grown into this fantastic role model, mentor and young lady.”
Humbled by the experience, Price searched for the words to express her appreciation.
“It's still hard to believe because I never expected in a million years I would ever be awarded a scholarship or the Volunteer of the Year Award,” she said. “Because, there are so many people out there who do just as many things as I do, involved in all the other Girls Inc.'s, and I was surprised they picked me.”
Price began attending the after-school program at the age of 4 and, as Short (there from the start) described, “she has committed, usually every year, about 500 hours to this organization. Victoria exemplifies what a strong, smart and bold Girls Inc. girl should be.”
A senior and soon-to-be graduate of Dobyns- Bennett High School, Price now works a member of the Girls Inc. volunteer staff. She helps younger girls with their homework and assists in other activities like cooking and summer dance classes.
Emily Kilgore Thompson, a Girls Inc. board member and former staff member (affiliated for 12 years), witnessed Price's transformation into the outspoken and confidence-driven young woman she is today.
“To watch her grow up through both (my) positions there is really just been neat,” Thompson said. “Now, as a board member, I get to be proud of her as I watch how the organization develops as she is now helping as volunteer staff there. She just has a great way with the younger kids and you can tell she knows what they need as she needed it when she was that age.”
Price has seen struggle in her young life, but through her Girls Inc. family (mentors like Short, Thompson and staff member, Loleta) and her family at home, she learned valuable tools of survival and self-preservation to carry her through whatever may come.
“I've been though some different things throughout my life and I could come here and put that aside,” Price explained. “[The staff members] would always help me figure out ways to push me on and get me to my goals in life. I don't have to worry about what people say or what people think of me because I know deep down inside who I am.”
She credits her mother, Lavonda, with her work ethic. Price said she taught me “I can do whatever I want and I should never depend on anybody to do it for me.”
With her scholarship, Price will attend East Tennessee State University in the fall to study physical therapy, a program which first struck her interest during her summer involvement in the school's Upward Bound program.
In her spare time, the young volunteer teaches children's Bible study at Mt. Zion Tabernacle Holiness Church in Kingsport and enjoys time with friends. She is part of the competition band and marching band at Dobyns-Bennett and took part in the Presidential Inaugural Parade this year. The practices were cold, Price recalled. “When we marched by the President, it was all worth it. He gave us a thumbs up and he was waving at us. It was just great,” she said.
Thompson and Short feel that Price is a testament to the great programming at Girls Inc.
“She's a very inspiring young lady. We hope that they'll all turn out just like that,” Thompson said.
Others may sing her praises, but Price simply looks at volunteerism as a practical way of living.
“You should do whatever you can to help others because you will never know when you might need that help in return,” Price said.
Girls Inc. of Kingsport is located at 1100 Girls Club Place. For more information, visit www.girlsinc.org or call 423-247-2321.