Prosser native and aspiring police officer represents Washington - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Prosser native and aspiring police officer represents Washington State as 2016 'Youth of the Year'

Posted: Updated:

TRI-CITIES, WA - 18-year-old Sebastian Castilleja was selected to represent the Boys and Girls club in Prosser in the Youth of the Year competition. Since then, he has gone on to compete regionally and statewide, bringing home the title of Washington State's Youth of the Year. 

"To represent the 79,000 youth in our state is an incredible feeling," said Castilleja. 

He was judged on community service, academic excellence and character. And with him every step of the way, Sebastian's mentor and Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Benton & Franklin Counties, Brian Ace. 

"More than anything, I was just proud. Proud to see him recognized in that way," said Ace. 

Sebastian got involved with the Boys and Girls club as a volunteer, 4 years ago. Growing up, he lacked the support he can now offer kids in the Prosser community. 

"I didn't really have a positive place to go when I was growing up," said Castilleja. 

Brian says the Youth of the Year process is an example of the impact the Boys and Girls Club can make in the lives of young people.  
"I understand, personally and professionally, the challenges that young people can face and the need that young people have for positive mentors in their lives," said Ace. 

Sebastian is looking forward to attending Washington State University in Tri-Cities. His dream is to become a Kennewick Police Officer, with the ultimate goal of taking over as Chief of Police. 

"Chief Hohenberg has been a great influence and has instilled in me the value of being a public servant," said Castilleja. 

Sebastian's message to other teens?

"We really have the power to do anything that we want to do in life," said Castilleja. 

In July, Sebastian and his mentor Brian will be traveling to California as part of the Youth of the Year competition. At stake is a $10,000 scholarship. He has won $7,500 through the competition so far.