Assistance and Persistence: The Astounding Partnership of Diaz-Mateo and the Boys and Girls Club of Lynn

Ismael Diaz-Mateo is the recipient of the Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year for the entire state of Massachusetts.

That major honor is just one part of the incredible success story that is Ismael Diaz-Mateo.

He has been be a member of the Boys and Girls Club since 2011. A 2020 graduate of KIPP Academy, Lynn, Ismael will be attending Tufts University, one of the nation’s most prestigious colleges, this fall.

He credits the Boys and Girls Club, executive director Brian Theirrien and program director Rob Kennedy for being positive role models and for providing the guidance and opportunities that led to this prestigious award and his admission to Tufts.

“What I want to say to the leaders of the Boys and Girls who have help advanced my life and been such a positive influence is: Keep on doing what you’re doing, because I am just one example of what young people are doing today. They offered help, asked me how I was doing, and made sure that each day I entered or left the club, I was smiling.”

Acadmic Programs at the Boys and Girls Club

At the age of nine, Ismael came to the United States from the Dominican Republic with his mother, Josefa Mateo and his brother. His grandparents were already living in Lynn.

He joined the Boys and Girls Club of Lynn where he met program director Rob Kennedy. Ismael said he couldn’t speak English when he arrived at the club.

“The Boys and Girls Club really helped me learn English, especially Rob,” said Ismael. “That’s one of the biggest reasons I want to give back to the club, because the club has shown me so much support and given me so many opportunities of learning while having fun as well.”

At the Club, he enjoyed table tennis, table soccer, basketball, and being a member of Club Tech, where members learned computer technology. He also joined academic-oriented clubs.

“It was in the education program where I learned with Rob and did all my homework,” said Ismael.

At KIPP, he excelled academically and participated in volleyball and cross country. He graduated with a 4.2 grade point average, complemented by eight Advanced Placement (AP) courses. He will be a resident student at Tufts and major in chemical engineering.

As a result of being named the Mass. Youth of the Year, Ismael has received academic scholarships from the Myra Kraft Foundation, the Lynn Boys and Girls Club, Toyota Foundation, and Comcast, who is presenting him a with laptop.

Rob Kennedy said he is “so proud” of Ismael and all his accomplishments. “I like to think we opened some doors for him and he took full advantage of every situation that was provided for him and I couldn’t be more proud of him just working so hard to pursue his goals and attain them. And he’s made me a better professional, so I’ll always have a special place in my heart for him.”

On Being the Mass. Youth of the Year

What’s it like to be the Mass. Youth of the Year?

“It feels very unique – I can’t really describe it,” said Ismael. “I’m very proud of myself but I also feel the road is still going. I want to try to represent the youth of Massachusetts as best that I can.”

Ismael prides himself on stepping up as a leader at the Boys and the Girls Club, in the school community, and in the City of Lynn.

“I try to be a leader for many of the youths at the club and inspire them to reach out for their dreams and achieve them,” said Ismael. “I want to help out as many youths in Lynn as I can and I want to make sure the resources they need and that they are supported and are happy as well.”

Ismael displayed his emotions when he was asked to reflect one last time on his years at the Boys and Girls Club of Lynn.

“I can’t put it in to words how grateful I am to Brian and Rob and the Club – they have been such an amazing help,” said Ismael.

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