Jeramiah Lucero has met Sen. Tom Udall and Gov. Susana Martinez, formed a leadership club at the Boys and Girls Club Teen Center, collects over 100 pounds of recyclables during lunch hours at Aztec High and received a standing ovation when he spoke at a recent Aztec Commission meeting.
He recently won the Aztec Boys and Girls Club's Youth of the Year award and was awarded $500 in scholarship money for college.
Earlier this month, Lucero traveled with Erin Collins, the club's director, to Alamogordo to compete in the statewide BGCA Youth of the Year competition where he was a finalist. The title recognizes outstanding contributions to a member's family, school, community and the club, as well as overcoming personal challenges and obstacles.
In preparation, Lucero wrote a total of nine essays and drafted a speech on growing up in Aztec, leadership, volunteerism and the positive impact the club has had on him. The competition involved speaking before a panel of judges and a rigorous interview process.
"I get the most out of myself when I'm under pressure," said Lucero, who has a 4.0 GPA and loves math and science. "Giving a major speech in front of so many people and meeting other leaders was an awesome experience."
Lucero will attend San Juan College in the fall. This spring he's taking a college success strategies class through the college to get ready. He hopes to transfer to either New Mexico Technical College or State University and major in environmental engineering, a combination of his passion for the environment and for building things.
"Everything I do is to keep myself going forward and building on what I've already accomplished," Lucero said. "The sad thing is that I don't see enough people of my age group seizing the opportunities that are out there and that should change."
As a junior staff member at the club's teen center, Lucero mentors younger kids he hopes will chart a path to personal success so that they, in turn, can help motivate others to be involved in improving life in the county.
He's also president and founder of the center's Keystone Club, which promotes leadership and community outreach.
"I started the Keystone club at the teen center (over a year ago) because they didn't have one," Lucero said. "Trouble is, many of our members are graduating (high school) and I'm trying to promote the club to younger kids to keep it going."
Lucero, who grew up in Aztec and has been a member of the Aztec BGCA for over a decade, has enjoyed a second family at the club, nurtured along the way by Collins.
"Jeramiah was my little club kid. He's always been a bright light to the club," she said. "We've come a long way together since we met when he was six years old. He's an outstanding young man and we are so proud of him."
Kylie Kingsbury, director of the Aztec club's Teen Center, works alongside Lucero and sees the entire mission of the organization personified in Jeremiah's energy and altruism.
"Jeramiah is one of those people whose energy is endless — and infectious," Kingsbury said. "Somehow he gets the best out of others and inspires them to work with him and give back to the community in such positive ways."
She sees evidence of his positive impact with the recycling program Jeramiah started and his active mentorship of middle-school members at the club.
"His dreams are endless and his work ethic is amazing, the way he constantly pushes to get people involved," Kingsbury said. "When he starts a project, you know he'll get it done."
Lucero has also logged more than 100 hours doing volunteer work for the city, at the Aztec Community Garden, Aztec Recycling Center and with the San Juan Animal League.
Over the summer, Jeremiah will continue his service to the community by rejoining the Youth Conservation Corps and be a volunteer for the San Juan County Fire Department.
"We need to see more people being motivators to others," Lucero said. "There are a lot of problems that need creative solutions and energy to get them solved. You've got to keep going for what's right, even if you're the only one."