Spend any time with Amarr Ash and it becomes evident that this kid is going places.
Representing Redstone as the Youth of the Year for a second year, Ash was named 2019 Alabama State Youth of the Year by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Ash, son of retired Staff Sgt. Thomas Jordan and Evonne Jordan, graduated this year from New Century Technology High School and plans to attend Alabama State University to study business and marketing, and computer information systems in the fall.
Ash said that when he was named the Youth Center’s 2018 Youth of the Year, he was nervous to compete at the state and regional level. But after being victorious at last year’s state competition, this year he was in it to win it. And win it he did, going on to compete at the Southeast regional competition in Atlanta. Although Ash placed second at regionals, he did not leave empty handed and went home with a sizeable scholarship award.
“I had a better experience (this year) because I could take the time to enjoy every part of it instead of stressing about the competition itself,” Ash said.
Youth of the Year has been transformative, he said. The added experience in public speaking gave him a new confidence and in the past year, he has accepted several requests to perform original poetry. Earlier this year, Ash’s performance brought the crowd at Bob Jones Auditorium to their feet at the Team Redstone Black History Month observance.
“My mother has become really proud of my speaking,” he said. “Because of Youth of the Year, I have had a lot of opportunities to do it and I actually really love it.”
After a busy spring, Ash isn’t slowing down. This summer he is working two jobs as a stocker at Dollar General Store and is also a manager for Wendy’s. He is also giving back to the Youth Center that he calls, “my home,” by holding a writing workshop and a Youth of the Year workshop to mentor future hopefuls.
Ash is excited about college and said although he knows he will be homesick, as a military child, he feels prepared.
“I am used to change, especially with the military. I’m a military brat, we move a lot,” he said. “We have to make new friends, I can adapt. And I can see (family) when I can, I chose somewhere that is fairly close.”
Ash said his favorite part of participating in the Youth of the Year competition for the past two years was making new friends and contacts that will benefit him in the future.
“The networking is amazing. You are in a room with so many other future leaders that you just have to sit back and just be in awe,” he said. “To me, they are my friends that I just text on a daily basis but for the future, if I start a business and I need workers or a partner to start this business with, I have a group of 40 people who I know are reliable leaders.”
Becoming a leader is what Ash feels is his biggest takeaway from Youth of the Year.
“At first, I was really nervous about it – I didn’t have too much confidence,” he said. “I knew I was a good speaker but I was still afraid to speak and represent a whole group of people. Going to the Youth of the Year competition, I doubted myself every step of the way. Even though I was highly qualified and I had everything that they asked for, I still didn’t believe that I had everything they needed.
“But because of Youth of the Year, whenever there is a situation going wrong, I can now confidently be the leader and say, ‘This isn’t right, let’s stop.’ Whenever someone is afraid to speak, I can speak for them and help them. Whenever something needs to get done, I can get it done, because I have the confidence now. And I know there is nothing stopping me.”