Texas ‘Youth of the Year’ attending TWU
When Carla Trochez met Texas Woman’s University associate nutrition professor Carolyn Moore during her interview for Youth of the Year at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston, little did they know that this chance encounter would lead to a full-ride scholarship to TWU, a fundraising event that raised more than $825,000 and, perhaps most importantly, a continuing student/mentor relationship that exemplifies the core values of both the Boys & Girls Clubs and TWU.
Receiving the Boys & Girls Clubs Texas Youth of the Year Award
Carla Trochez became a member of the Boys & Girls Club during middle school, because she didn’t have a computer or Internet at home.
“I regularly attended the Club to complete my homework shortly after finding out that I could stay in the computer lab until the Club closed,” Trochez said.
As a return for its service, Trochez became a Club volunteer in high school to give back.
Trochez, who struggled with eating disorders when she was younger, asked to teach a Healthy Habits class to kindergartners through third graders at the Club. She believes teaching the class benefitted both her and her students, as well as influenced her future career choice to become a dietitian.
“My program director provided me with healthy snacks for the kids while I taught them to make easy, affordable and healthy recipes,” Trochez said. “As my ideas came to life, my self-esteem was fed, and I gained confidence in myself, despite coming from a low-socio economic background.”
Trochez is passionate about healthy lifestyles and eating a plant-based diet. She credits being a part of the Boys & Girls Club for providing a safe and supportive place for her to navigate some of the most unstable times in her life, including her struggle with an eating disorder.
“I was able to find support from the Club staff, who gave me opportunities to overcome my struggle and take a negative aspect of my life and transform it into a positive one by helping other Club members establish a healthy lifestyle,” she said.
Because of her work with the Boys & Girls Club, she competed and won Youth of the Year in Houston — where she met TWU’s Carolyn Moore — winning the award and advancing to the state competition. She was named the Boys & Girls Clubs Texas Youth of the Year March 2, 2015.
“Being named the Texas Youth of the Year has given me the opportunity to share my story and inspire others to follow their dreams, despite their circumstances,” Trochez said. “This is an honor I never expected, and I feel I have paved the way for other youth from my city to see themselves as achieving more than they ever dreamed.”
“I am so proud and grateful to represent the Boys & Girls Clubs,” Trochez added. “I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without its support.”
Deciding to attend Texas Woman’s University
“I knew there was something special about Carla right away when I heard her story during her interview,” said Moore, a longtime volunteer with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston who served as a judge last spring for the Youth of the Year competition. “When Carla said she was interested in a career in nutrition, I knew I was in the right place at the right time.”
Moore invited Trochez out for coffee, where they discussed Trochez’s future college and professional career. Moore told Trochez, a first-generation college student, that due to her interest in nutrition and impressive grades, she should start looking ahead to graduate school.
“Dr. Moore did not push Texas Woman’s University but did let me know about TWU’s great reputation in nutrition in Texas and beyond,” Trochez said. “She invited me for a tour of the graduate nutrition program at the TWU-Houston campus. After touring the building and seeing her lab, I became even more excited to go to college and to become a dietitian in the future.”
Moore knew that Trochez was the salutatorian of her class at Houston’s Northbrook High School, which qualified her for a Presidential Scholarship at TWU. Trochez, whose mother is raising her alone, is the first in her family to graduate high school and wasn’t aware of the scholarship and financial aid opportunities available for her.
Moore said, “As we got to know each other, I knew TWU would be the right fit for Carla, because she was academically qualified, she would it fit in the culture of TWU with its commitment to first-generation students, and she was interested in a career in nutrition, for which TWU is nationally recognized.”
Moore put Trochez in touch with the admissions staff in Denton.
“I learned about the nutrition program in Denton and was accepted to the amazing Honors Scholar program — making TWU my only choice,” Trochez said. “Attending TWU became a no-brainer.”
Trochez was offered and accepted the Presidential Scholarship at TWU. This, combined with other scholarships through her academic achievements and accomplishments as Texas Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Clubs, resulted in Trochez having a full ride at TWU with more than $40,000 in scholarships.
Moore, who has sent two of her own children to college, also helped Trochez prepare her for the move from Houston to Denton. The pair went shopping in Houston to prepare Trochez for move to her TWU residence hall. Their friendship continues to this day.
“Dr. Moore is a wonderful woman,” Trochez said. “Thanks to her, I am getting a quality education at an affordable cost with a great college experience at TWU.”
Raising more than $825,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston
In spring 2015, Kevin Hattery, president & CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston, asked Moore and her husband, Matt Khourie, to co-chair the Club’s 2015 Great Futures Dinner along with another couple, Katherine and Paul Murphy.
“As my relationship with Carla developed, I thought the timing was perfect,” Moore said. “I had a personal connection with Carla, whose story was going to be featured at the event. Once she decided to attend TWU, it was even better, because being a co-chair of the event tied together my teaching career and passion for nutrition with my volunteer and philanthropic service.”
By all accounts the Great Futures Dinner, held Sept. 9, 2015, was a resounding success raising more than $825,235 — the highest amount raised in the event’s 27-year history. The evening featured World Cup star Carli Lloyd, who spoke about personal success to the more than 800 guests who turned out in support of the Houston-area clubs that serve about 12,000 youth each year. Trochez’s story was shared with guests, who also were shown a video from TWU Chancellor Carine M. Feyten. The event also honored philanthropists and long-time Boys & Girls Clubs supporters Patti and Michael Morgan.
“I feel privileged to have met Carla when I did, which led to all of these wonderful things happening for her and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston,” Moore said. “It’s been an amazing journey.