NEWS | July 20, 2021

Preparing to Lead

By Airman 1st Class Matt Porter 87th Air Base Wing

The Boys & Girls Club of America offers a Youth of the Year program, now in its 74th iteration, which honors the nation’s most awe-inspiring young people on their path to great futures. The program encourages all kids to lead, succeed and inspire. This year’s Military Youth of the Year winner for the State of New Jersey was awarded to Joint Base MDL’s very own Victor Oluwagbemi.

Victor is the son of Olajumoke Oluwagbemi, an 87th Contracting Squadron contract specialist and U.S. Air Force veteran. A New Jersey native and second-generation American of Nigerian descent, Oluwagbemi found both a home and purpose through the various clubs offered to youth on the installation.

“I remember being angry, upset, and feeling excluded a lot when I was younger,” said Oluwagbemi. “Getting involved with various clubs on base through The Boys and Girls Club like Passport to Manhood, Torch Club, and Keystone Club, changed all that for me.”

Oluwagbemi has been a Boys & Girls Club member now for 14 years and is currently president and acting secretary of the Keystone club. Some of his acts of community service include volunteer work at St. Jude Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, MS Walk, the Animal Shelter of Burlington County, Mount Holly Children’s Home and Food Bank of South Jersey.

An honor roll student with a 3.84 GPA at Pemberton High school, Oluwagbemi received the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers Achievement Award, Advanced Proficient Scores and Sports Achievement Awards.

“The pandemic had a profound effect on the clubs, our community, and our ability to experience certain milestones in High School without being able to gather together,” said Oluwagbemi. “But I didn’t give up, I had to learn how to be supportive from a distance and do what I could in spite of circumstances.”

Unsettled by the deteriorating state of mental health and domestic violence at the onset of the pandemic, Oluwagbemi was moved to act. With the help of his club members he was able to design and distribute masks and T-shirts to create awareness of the effects of domestic and teen violence.

“It was important to me that when competing for this year’s Youth of the Year award, that my platform be one based on inclusion and mental health,” said Oluwagbemi. “Helping generate a sense of community through service and inclusion seemed to be a necessary step forward from what we dealt with and continue to deal with during the pandemic.”

In order to help give back to the community that he feels has given him so much, Oluwagbemi has his sights set on an Ivy League education, a corporate law degree, and potentially ROTC.

As the state and now regional winner of the Military Youth of the Year award, Oluwagbemi has received, in excess of, $20,000 in scholarship funds. He now goes on to compete at the national level, and hopes to help lead other military youth along the same path of excellence.