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Young People Cast Their Vote for Person of the Year

YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia, Commentary, Various Authors Posted: Dec 31, 2009

Editor's note: As the end of the year approaches, we asked young people to name the man or woman who has been the biggest influence on their lives in 2009. From Barack Obama to Lady Gaga, young people chose influential figures in politics, music and sports. But others chose people who arent famous at all the people in their own families who they believe had the greatest impact on their lives.

My Man of the Year

I can't choose just one "Person of the Year" because there are so many people in my life who could be "Man or Woman of the Year."

One person who comes to mind is Barack Obama because he made history as the first African-American president.

I would choose my husband as my "Man of the Year." My husband's name is Terry and our son's name is Terry, too. My husband is the father of my child, not my "baby daddy." He is not just some man who got me pregnant. He is just as responsible for raising our wonderful baby boy as I am.

I can honestly that say my son couldn't have had a better father. Not only is Terry around and active in my son's life, but he is young and black, which means society doesn't believe he will stick around or be in the picture. But Terry is here. Terry was there for my pregnancy, labor, and for bringing our baby home. Terry takes care of our son and is learning how to be a father. That is more than I can say for most boys. Most boys will give up, but a real man stays and teaches himself as he teaches his son.

I am almost 20 years old. Terry and I have our own place. My son has his own room and Terry and I both work to provide for ourselves. My man has a vehicle and I know I can always rely on him and he knows he can always rely on me. He brings so much to the table--that is why he is my "Man of the Year."

-- Valerie Klinker, 19

Lady Gaga Gets It Going in '09

My person of the year is Lady Gaga because she hit the scene in a big way and was all over the place this year. From the Billboard music charts to her performances at awards shows, like MTV and even BET, she shocked the hell out of people with her outlandish visual displays. She is weird because she makes this old-fashioned new music and it's sick, but the fact of the matter is she makes good music. You couldn't go to a party this year and not hear a song of hers.

One of my favorite songs by her is a song called "Chillin" featuring Wale. I started paying attention to her when this song came out in the summer of 2009. Wale is kind of a big deal on the underground rap scene but he's also getting some radio play. Since then, Lady Gaga has done cameos with Colby O'Donis on the Just Dance remix with Flo'Rida. She has also done a music video Beyonce, "Videophone," which further solidified her versatility as an artist.

Also, what got me up on Lady Gaga was her style of dress. Everything she wears is art, and she's always trying to take it up a notch. She wore an all white bridal outfit on MTV that she covered in blood, and then on Saturday Night Live she wore a pink bubble dress.

Later in that same episode, she and Madonna fought in lingerie.

I like what she's doing. It's weird, but sexy in the right way that catches people's attention. She's unpredictable and a prime contender for artist of the year. It makes me wonder who she is at home, but I have a feeling that she is as normal as ever and looks at herself on TV and laughs. She's probably nothing like her onstage personality. Or maybe she is. I think shell get more popular over the next five years, and then people will start getting sick of her by 2015.

--Amanze Emenike, 22

A-Rod Hits Back

A person of the year that deserves some consideration is the baseball player Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) of the New York Yankees. Rodriguez had a complete turn- around from the beginning of the year to the end. In February, he was accused of taking performance enhancers during his early playing days with the Texas Rangers.

Initially he denied the reports but later admitted to the use of steroids. People started to securitize A-Rod and even fellow baseball superstar Albert Pujols was surprised about Rodriguez's actions because he said he looked up to him.

But steroid allegations were just the beginning for Alex Rodriguez. An MRI test revealed that he had a cyst in his right hip. Rodriguez had to undergo surgery to remove the cyst. As a result, he missed the World Baseball Classic, Spring Training and the first month of the MLB season. In the first few months of his return to baseball, it was clear that the surgery had affected his performance. For the first time in nearly 10 years, Rodriguez didn't make the All-Star team.

Things started to change in the second half of the season. Rodriguez started looking like himself by hitting around .300 and the Yankees had the best record in baseball. The team clinched their division title and were on a mission to win the World Series. Rodriguezs success is what fueled the Yankees to reach the World Series, where Rodriguez had one of the best post-seasons ever for any player. He tied the Yankee record for most homeruns during the post season with six, and broke the team record for most RBIs in a post season with 18.Throughout Rodriguez's career, he has been securitized for not winning a world championship. On Nov. 4, 2009, he put the criticism to rest when he won his first World Series Championship in a dramatic series with the Philadelphia Phillies.

In 2009, Rodriguez became a champion and was awarded the 2009 ESPY for best baseball player.

-- Alexi Drier, 19

My Person of the Year? Me.

I sat down for hours trying to figure out who really made an impact on my life in 2009. I thought about Obama and how he made history, but he hasn't had an impact on me personally.

And then it hit me. The person of the year is me!

Last year I went through a stage in my life when I felt nothing mattered, but 2009 was the year I grew mentally to finally see what I wanted and needed in life to succeed. I have supported myself--mentally, emotionally, and physically---even when I didn't have anyone or even a place to lay my head. Overcoming these obstacles made me realize where I should be in life and that time is of the essence.

During my journey through 2009, I dropped out of high school, which doesn't make me happy, but I'm happy to say I'm currently a student at College of San Mateo, working on my general education requirements. After I finish, I want to get a BA in criminal justice because it's something that interests me and school is where the money is right now, especially since the economy is so bad.

I went from living on someone's couch to living in a hotel to finally finding a home. Yes, I did it--I got my own place, despite the fact that it means more money is coming out my pocket for dishes, towels and furniture, not to mention food. I have to cook three meals everyday. I'm also living with my boyfriend, and I have to make sure that his drawers are clean and he's happy.

But the biggest obstacle was finding peace with my mom. We went from being enemies to being best friends. My family has come to acknowledge my newfound maturity, and the fact that I physically grew from a child into a young woman.

Everyone looks at me and says, "Wow, you made it this far. Don't give up now."

And I won't. I cant. I have to keep pursuing my dreams of furthering my education so I can make enough money to support my family without having to worry about how I'm going to flip this or that to get the rent paid.

I've come to realize that everyone struggles and goes through times in their lives when it seems like there's no way out. Ultimately, you have to find yourself and know what you want to do. Only you can make the change, either for the good or the bad.

-- Marie Alvarez, 18

Father of the Year

In my eyes, my father is the Man of the Year. I chose my father because he's very hardworking. He started his own construction company. He puts up with bullshit at his job. Plus he has to deal with three headstrong women at home: my mother, my sister, and me.

He is always striving to give our family more than enough. Last week he overheard me telling my sister that I wanted some shoes I saw, and later that day my mom gave me some money and told me my dad said it was for the shoes. He never asks us for anything except to be kind and respectful to each other. My mom is a sweetheart so she is always nice. It's my sister and I who slip occasionally, but we can't ever stay mad for too long. He puts the roof over our heads and is always there when I need him.

My relationship with my dad seems cool on the surface, but there's room for improvement. I want our father-and-daughter bond to get stronger by spending more time together and talking more.

-- Angelica Arreola, 19

Related Articles:

2009: The Year of Wise Latinos

2009: The Good, the Bad and the Merlot

A Decade of New Youth Activism

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