MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – An 18-year-old from St. Paul could become the Boys and Girls Club National Youth of the Year.

Anaa Jibicho has already been named Minnesota and Midwest Youth of the Year.

The Boys and Girls Club says he’s the perfect example of a young man finding his way and striving to achieve his full potential.

WCCO’s Reg Chapman has more on his story, one that began in another part of the world.

Anaa Jibicho has accomplished so much in such a short time.

“I am who I am because of the club,” Jibicho explained.

He credits his 12 years at the Mt. Airy Boys and Girls Club in St. Paul for giving him direction in his life when he needed it most.

“I was born in Ethiopia. I had to flee from Ethiopia to Kenya because there was a persecution going on at the time,” Jibicho said.

The ongoing persecution of the Oromo people forced his family to come to the U.S. in 2007.

“I was having a really hard time learning the language and adjusting to the culture,” Jibicho explained.

Jibicho says life was not easy for a refugee in the U.S.

“I did get in trouble. I was in the back of a police car a couple of times,” Jibicho said. “I even almost got suspended from my whole school district, not school, but the whole school district.”

But he says he did not want to go down that road.

Jibicho says a St. Paul police officer provided him with an opportunity that changed his life.

“One day I was playing soccer in my neighborhood and a police officer approached us and we thought he was going to arrest us at this time, but thankfully, he didn’t,” said Jibicho. “I still remember his name, officer Cortez.  And then officer Cortez gave me and my friends a one-day guest pass to the Mt. Airy Boys and Girls Club.”

Jibicho says he found positive role models at the Club and learned how to set goals.

“The club’s really allowed me to achieve. It was through the clubs that I learned how to overcome adversity, a little dose of something called hope,” Jibicho said.

Jibicho’s number one priority now is education.

He will take what the Club has taught him to Pomona College in Claremont California, where he received a full-ride scholarship.

Jibicho encourages all youth to keep working for a better future for themselves and their communities.

Jibicho was awarded a $40,000 scholarship for being named Boys and Girls Club Midwest Youth of the year. He will compete for the national title in September in Washington DC.

Reg Chapman