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Mariah Hairston, 2008 Young Woman of Achievement

Mariah Hairston, 2008 Young Woman of Achievement

Mariah Hairston, a 2008 Young Woman of Achievement, is passionate about helping at-risk underprivileged youth.  “They too have dreams and aspirations,” she said. “The difference is that I have my parents by my side to help and guide me along the way.  They have no one to turn to for support or encouragement.”

Mariah, who has spent all of her life in the Vancouver area, currently attends Skyview High School while taking college courses at Clark College as a Running Start student.

She anticipates earning her high school diploma and Associate of Arts degree in June 2008. She maintains an impressive GPA of 3.89 while making time for extracurricular and volunteer activities.

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Two years ago, after spending some time with at-risk unprivileged homeless youth and doing some soul-searching, she decided, as her pastor, Randy West of Northwest Community Fellowship, noted: “…to pull out of activities that she dearly loves such as basketball, dance and track in order to pursue her goal of building a community youth center.”  

Mariah hopes to someday open a youth community center in Clark County, one that would provide essential services and support to underprivileged youth.  To turn this dream into a reality, Mariah is partnering with the America for Youth Foundation and the Clark County Youth Commission.  She plans to ask retired mentors and professionals to help staff the center, providing assistance in applying to college, homework, resume writing, financial classes and planning, employment, and counseling — all the services needed to help young people achieve their dreams and aspirations.

Mariah also makes a difference through her involvement with the Clark County Youth Commission.  For the last three years, she has worked with the commission as one of the voices for Clark County youth. Their work for 2007 includes: ‘Couv Fest, Clark County Youth Achievement Award celebration, Mental Health/Depression as it Affects Youth and involvement with the county’s “20-year Economic Growth & Development Plan” as it pertains to Clark County youth.  

Mariah said, “I am determined to make a difference by being a part of public policy, campaigning for social equality, transforming society’s opinion and tolerance of youth homelessness and becoming an advocate for change by promoting alternative options for underprivileged and homeless youth in our society.”

Through her participation in her school’s chapter of the National Honor Society, the Skyview Mentor program, S.T.A.N.D (Students Taking a New Direction) and ALPHA, which introduces the importance of volunteering, Mariah has demonstrated community service, mentoring and leadership.

For her leadership at her school and in the community, Mariah has received honors including her selection as Miss Greater Vancouver’s Outstanding Teen 2007.  She has received five 2007 Clark County Youth Achievement awards, the 2005 African American Youth Achievement award, the Comcast Leaders and Achievers award, and Presidential Academic Leadership award. She is also a nominee for the 2008 George C. Marshall Youth Leadership award.

Mariah has received a number of scholarship offers from universities throughout the nation.  She decided to accept a scholarship offer from the University of Washington, where she will pursue a double major in Chemical Engineering and Paper Science Engineering. She says she made this decision based on her desire “to continue to participate in the process of building a youth center in Clark County.”

In nominating Mariah Hairston as a Young Woman of Achievement, Pastor Randy West summarized Mariah’s accomplishments in just a few words: “She is a role model to all youth.”

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