Ai’Zsoni Sherman first entered the Boys & Girls Club of Evansville at 6 years old. Since then, she’s learned a lot within the club’s walls, and she’s also shared lessons with others.
Now a 17-year-old junior at North High School, Sherman has made history as the 2023 Boys & Girls Clubs of Indiana Youth of the Year. She’s the first student from Evansville to receive the award and advance to regional competition since Ed Bassemier in 1964.
Club officials say it is a well-earned recognition. Ai-Zsoni is a junior staff member and is at the Club five days a week, assisting older staff and supporting Club programming.
“I help kids with reading and homework and play games with them,” Ai-Zsoni says.
“She’s all over the place, every day,” adds Shanna Groeninger, director of development and marketing for the Boys & Girls Club. “She steps in, and she’s a big help to our director of programs. Wherever programs are running, and additional help is needed, she’s there, and she’s also running programs and helping kids.”
The daughter of Andre Sherman and Shannon Wilson-Sherman, Ai’Zsoni is one of eight children, and several of her siblings also have been Boys & Girls Club members.
The state competition — as well as the upcoming regional competition — requires youth to speak about their life journey. They are judged on how they assist other staff, serve as a role model, act as citizens and leaders, and overcome personal obstacles.
One obstacle Ai’Zsoni discusses in her presentation is the loss of a cousin to an act of gun violence.
“I talked about my experiences and how the Boys & Girls Club helped me become the person I am today,” she says.
Ai’Zsoni has big plans for her life beyond the club and Evansville. Her goal is to become a lawyer, and she’s interested in attending Indiana University. She’s received a $5,000 scholarship, as well as a tuition-free year from Ivy Tech Community College.
She participates in the Youth Resources of Southwestern Indiana’s Vanderburgh County Teen Court program, and she spends her school day mornings studying in the Southern Indiana Career & Technical Center’s criminal justice and public safety program.
Ai’Zsoni also will tell you that some of her interest in law comes from binge-watching “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”
Groeninger says Ai’Zsoni was confident she’d win the state competition and even told club staff beforehand that “we’re gonna take it.” The regional competition is June 28-30 in Chicago, Illinois.
Bassemier, by the way, went on to receive National Youth of the Year recognition in 1964 after earning the statewide award. His career in Evansville included serving several years on the Vanderburgh County Council.
The Boys & Girls Club is thrilled to see Ai’Zsoni making history in her own right as Indiana Youth of the Year.
“It’s a very distinguished, prestigious honor,” Groeninger says.