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Youth of the Year - Mother's death spurred Perez to achieve her goals

by Paul Tennant, Eagle Tribune

LAWRENCE — Zuleydy Perez was not quite 16 when her mother, Dominga Castro, suddenly died.

It would have been understandable if she had lost much of her drive to succeed. Yet this young woman resolved to honor her mother by working all the harder to achieve success.

Perez was recently selected as this year's Youth of the Year by the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence. The club has been an important part of her life since she was 7.

Her mother, 55 when she died last summer, may have prepared Perez for her death, even though it was unexpected.

"She told me, 'I don't want you to cry over me if I die,'" Perez recalled. "I kept it in the back of my mind. She wants me to finish school, go to college and get a degree."

Her mother worked in a factory. Perez, 17, is a senior at Central Catholic High School. She earned a Montagne scholarship, which enabled her to attend Central.

She plans to study sports management at St. John's University this fall. She earned the Christian A. Herter Memorial Scholarship, which will provide her with considerable help toward this goal.

She aspires to work for a professional sports team, hopefully one in the NBA. She loves basketball – it was the first sport she played when she joined the Boys & Girls Club a decade ago – and she also wants to learn how to manage a business.

"I want to put it together," she said of those two passions.


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