Three young women were recognized for their leadership during this year's Boys & Girls Club of Chattanooga Great Futures luncheon at The Chattanoogan on Thursday.
LaShaysheion Thomas, a senior at The Howard School, received the David Fussell Outstanding Leadership Award, which brings with it a $2,500 college scholarship.
"I don't know what to say," Thomas, overcome with emotion, said from the podium before a room full of fellow students and business leaders.
"I want to thank the club for sticking by my side," she said. "Just being there for me. You've just been the inspiration for me."
Outstanding leadership award winners are picked based on their track record of leadership. That includes helping younger students with homework, organizing and supervising recreational activities and assisting staff with daily operations.
Each month, two students are interviewed and one is selected as leader of the month. Boys & Girls Club representatives interviewed all 12 of those leaders and chose Thomas, who hopes to become a traveling registered nurse, for the top honor.
To the younger students, Thomas' advice is "to stay focused and be encouraged."
Casia Jarrett and Payton Maffett also were recognized. They each received the Great Futures Award and a $1,000 scholarship.
Maffett, a senior at East Hamilton High School, said receiving the scholarship means a lot to her.
"It's important that I can use my scholarship money to put back into the Boys & Girls Club," she said.
Maffett plans to pursue a forensic chemistry degree and become a medical examiner.
And Jarrett, a senior at Brainerd High School, hopes to become a team manager for the National Basketball Association. She said the Boys & Girls Club has been a support system for her and she's thankful for the scholarship to alleviate some tuition costs.
For Thomas, she will go on to compete at the state level with other Boys & Girls Club leadership awards recipients. From there, winners move on to the regional level and ultimately the national level. The national winner is announced by the president of the United States at a congressional breakfast and will win a $25,000 scholarship.