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Aaliyah attended the Yawkey Club of Roxbury from 2008 to 2016. Now 19 and a freshman at Skidmore College, she is studying exercise science and hopes to become a physical therapist in the future.

“When I first came to the Club I was very quiet and shy,” said Aaliyah. “I rarely left the homework room because I was anxious around other kids and didn’t really know how to make friends.”

The Club helped pull Aaliyah out of her shell. “I liked going to the gym, especially because of the roller-skating. I also enjoyed going to social recreation to try classic games like pool and foosball. From there I was able to build confidence and try out more of the opportunities the Club had to offer.”

“The Club staff was terrific,” she added. “Shiona, in particular, was one of the best mentors for me. She was my supervisor for Counselor in Training and an advisor for Keystone [the Club’s teen leadership program]. She really made me feel safe and at home.”

Aaliyah was also grateful for the opportunity to travel abroad. “Visiting India with the Club was one of the best experiences I ever had. Getting to experience a completely different culture and lifestyle was eye-opening and an adventure I’ll never forget.”

To improve her resume, Aaliyah applied for many jobs and leadership opportunities offered at the Club and went on many college visits. “I was a Young Leader, a Counselor in Training, a Junior Staff member, and through the Summer Fellows program, accepted internships at Children’s Hospital and Fidelity Investments. During school breaks, I visited colleges all over the East Coast.”

Aaliyah plans to attend graduate school for physical therapy.