Hamdi Hanshi is named Boys & Girls Club’s 2022 Youth of the Year


Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota board and staff members invite the community to a reception honoring Hamdi Hanshi as the 2022 Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota Youth of the Year. The reception will be at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30, 2022 at the Southside Boys & Girls Club (1205 6th Avenue S., St. Cloud).

Hamdi and her family immigrated to the United States in 2015 when Hamdi was 8 years old. She didn’t know any English, and she struggled to communicate with her teacher and classmates. She was very shy, but she was committed to learning the language and customs, because she wanted to make friends and be successful.

Hamdi and her family moved to St. Cloud in 2019. It was then that she found the Southside Boys & Girls Club. Shortly after her family settled into the community, the pandemic struck. Schoolwork became even harder for Hamdi with distance learning. Thankfully, she had the Boys & Girls Club to help her get through it. At the Club, Hamdi met artist mentor Alison Unzelman, who helped her with her schoolwork. She pointed out bold words in Hamdi’s book and helped her understand the vocabulary words and how to find the glossary in the back to define them. Now, Hamdi is more confident in school as a sophomore at Tech, and her grades have improved.

At the Club, Hamdi also found her talent as an artist. At first, Hamdi tried activities in other areas of the Club, but nothing felt quite right to her – that is, until she found the visual arts studio at the Club.

“I never had a hobby before joining the Club,” said Hamdi. “But I learned that I enjoy art, and now I can say I have a hobby.”

While Hamdi had never drawn or painted before coming to the Club, she developed great skills as an artist in the visual arts program, and she has become a youth leader in the program. Hamdi also built strong, positive relationships with the youth in the art studio and with Ms. Alison. Hamdi has had her work exhibited at the Paramount and at Crossroads Shopping Center. Her work has moved on to Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s regional exhibits, and she has even sold a piece of her work.

Upon graduation from high school, Hamdi plans to go to college. Her dream is to become a children’s author and illustrator.


What’s Next for Hamdi Hanshi?

As Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota’s 2022 Youth of the Year, Hamdi will go on to compete at the state level in the Twin Cities on April 26, 2022.

In recognition of Hamdi’s accomplishments as the 2022 Youth of the Year, she will receive a $1,000 Youth of the Year local scholarship. She will also receive a scholarship through her participation in the state Youth of the Year competition. The Minnesota Youth of the Year will receive a $10,000 Home Team scholarship from the professional sports organizations in the state of Minnesota. State winners participate in Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s regional competition. Five regional winners receive a $20,000 scholarship and compete on the national level. The National Youth of the Year receives an additional $50,000 scholarship.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year embodies the organization’s three priority outcome areas of leadership, character and service; academic excellence; and healthy lifestyles. The Youth of the Year is selected based on the following criteria: academic achievement; communication and relationship skills; leadership and teamwork; character, honesty and integrity. Local Clubs recognize Youths of the Month and select a Youth of the Year, who then participates in the state competition.