Khalil McGowan, 18, stood out as the “Best of the Best” and was named the 2017 Youth of the Year for the Gulf Coast Boys and Girls Club. The announcement was made at the annual Steak and Stake Dinner, held at the IP Casino and Resort Hotel in Biloxi.

“It is an honor to be up here and I just want to recognize each and every other Youth of the Year,” McGowan said, referring to the representatives of the other four South Mississippi Boys and Girls Clubs. “I’m proud to be Youth of the Year and represent my boys and Girls Club of the Gulf Coast.”

McGowan, representing the Forest Heights Boys and Girls Club Center in Gulfport, won over candidates who represented the other four Boys and Girls Club units on the Gulf Coast: Michael Carson, 17, Qatar Center at Pass Christian; Ian Catchings, 16, East Biloxi Unit; Jasmine Hawkins, 16, Hancock County Unit; and Jaliyah Snaer, 14, IP Center at North Bay.

McGowan recently graduated from Harrison Central High School. He has served as President and Vice-President for the Keystone Club and is a member of the Spanish Honor Society and the League of Distinguish Gentlemen Leadership/Mentor organization. He will attend Jackson State University this fall with plans on majoring in education.

The five Gulf Coast Boys and Girls Club units collectively serve over 4,000 youths. According to CEO Keva Scott, the clubs focus on the priorities of Academic Success, Good Character and Citizenship and Healthy Lifestyles.

McGowan scored the best on several categories reviewed by a panel of judges, with an essay being the most critical test. His motto was: “Today, I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.”

The Steak and Stake Dinner is the GCBGC’s top fundraiser. Both a silent and open auction raised thousands of dollars and featured several exquisite items and exotic trips.