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West Springfield High School junior Kylie McKenzie is awarded a scholarship from Girls Inc. National.

According to their website, Girls Inc. of the Valley is a program dedicated to inspiring all youth to be strong, smart, and bold by providing them the opportunity to develop and achieve their full potential. Girls Inc. of the Valley services girls from ages 5 to 18 from all across western Massachusetts.

Kylie McKenzie, a junior at West Springfield High School, has been a member of Girls Inc. for years. She is a member of the Eureka! program.

According to a news release from Chikmedia, Eureka! is a five-year commitment program for youth and families that begins the summer before 8th grade and spans to 12th grade. Through this program, scholars have access to high-tech labs and amazing professors from local colleges during their summer programs. Scholars participate in events like community action projects and four-week-long summer externships.

This year, Girls Inc. National awarded scholars $430,000 in scholarships to 45 applicants. McKenzie was one of 35 high school students to win in a pool of hundreds of applicants. She recently spoke at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame at Girls Inc’s Spirit of Girls event. McKenzie confidently said, “Girls Inc. inspired me to be bold and confident in who I am and how I perceive myself. I no longer seek the approval of others.”

After she graduates, McKenzie wants to pursue a career in neonatology, or the subspecialty of pediatrics that cares for premature infants and their families.

In her scholarship essay, McKenzie writes, “Becoming a doctor/surgeon would allow me to help people in a unique way and ensure a safe place for all those seeking help. In particular, my goal is to advocate for moms from marginalized communities. It has been proven that there are inequalities within the health system… I want to help change them.”