When asked to describe herself in one word, Alexis Smith’s immediate response is “driven.” The 17-year-old tenacious Harding Fine Arts Academy senior has overcome hardship with grace, crediting her close-knit family and supportive mentors at the Boys and Girls Club of Oklahoma County for keeping her focused on her goals. She’s been a member of BGC for 12 years, where she serves as the Keystone Club treasurer and works as a junior
staff member. She was recently named the Club’s Youth of the Year and will compete for the state title this spring.
What has Boys and Girls Club provided you the past 12 years?
All in all, it has given me a second family and another place to call home. It’s pressed me to reach toward my goals, too, so that wasn’t all put on my mom. All of my family works there; my mom is a director at TelStar and my sister works at the main club with me.
When you think about your mentors over the years, does one stand out as having had a profound influence on your life?
Ms. Chris works at the Club, and I’ve known her since I was about 7. She became my godmother, has influenced me to become a better person and has been there through everything, especially when I lost my brother, Tyrone, when I was 9. I can’t remember a mentor or anyone who has been there for me like she was.
What do you enjoy about working at the front desk at Boys and Girls Club?
I think it’s cool because it allows me to give back and gives me job experience. At my age, not a lot of kids can say they were a receptionist. It also allows me to meet new people and learn how to communicate.
How has your family influenced your desire to give back to others?
I have seven siblings, counting Tyrone. My mom loves kids and adopted four kids before I was born because she wanted to give troubled teens a home. She and my dad got divorced when I was 6, so she has done a lot on her own. She has a really big heart and even when we were struggling, she always wanted to give. My brother Tyrone had a really big heart, too, and whenever he saw something wrong, he stood up for the person in trouble. Having my family around is what got me through that time, giving me people to talk to and express my feelings to.
What advice do you give younger kids who may be struggling with school or family?
The biggest advice I could give another youth is that you have to express yourself and learn to ask for help. I’ve met a lot of kids who are going through stuff and don’t like to ask for help or talk about things. When you are doing everything alone, it gets hard. If you’re struggling, find someone to talk to.
What’s your favorite class in school?
I love English and writing. My favorite assignment was writing a short biography where we got to talk about ourselves in third person.
What extracurricular activities do you most enjoy?
I’m a senior rep for STUCO and I’m in Black Student Association. Keystone Club is run by Boys and Girls Club, and it’s a leadership and volunteer outreach program. We do volunteer work in the community and go on college tours.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I really enjoy art, especially painting. Sharing art with my brother, who is 4, is my favorite thing.
How did you feel when you found out you had been selected as the Boys and Girls Club of Oklahoma County Youth of the Year?
It was really overwhelming. When they called my name, it was really surreal. I’m just grateful that my story has impacted others.
What are your plans for after high school?
I’m planning to go to OSU-OKC for nursing and eventually transfer to OSU. After becoming a nurse, I may want to go back to school and become a doctor. When I was younger, I was in an out of the hospital a lot with sickle cell trait. My nurses who enjoyed what they do and make the world a better place inspired me.