Meet Makiyah Waller: Youth of the Year for Jesse Draper Boys & Girls Club

Meet Makiyah Waller: Youth of the Year for Jesse Draper Boys & Girls Club
October 18, 2017 BGCMA

Ask Makiyah Waller, 16, about exotic animals, and her face lights up. Her favorite is the Clouded Leopard, native to the Himalayan foothills. Now, Makiyah’s dream is to take care of animals like these. She believes her Club encouraged her to shoot for her dreams and be an example to her peers. But for a while, that dream was forgotten. Makiyah believes it would have been forgotten forever.

In middle school, Makiyah says she didn’t fit in, and had a bad attitude. She got into conflicts with her peers, and had trouble at school. But in 7th grade, Ms. Kaityre, a staff member at her Club, started talking to her in the teen center, and helped Makiyah realize that her attitude wasn’t solving her problems – only making things worse.

Makiyah credits her participation in Club programs over the last 10 years to helping her change for the better. She says her attendance at the Girl Power Summit enabled her to see issues from other people’s perspective, which improved her attitude and ability to resolve conflict.


In College Bound, a college readiness program for high school seniors, Makiyah learned to focus on what she wanted to with her life, and to set specific goals. This process brought back a memory she had as a young child of her deep love of animals, which had slipped away during her challenging years.

Makiyah has now turned that love of animals into her present focus and direction for the future. In addition to school and the Club, she has a job at Zoo Atlanta. She would like to attend Tuskegee University, known for its excellent veterinary program, and become an exotic animal veterinarian. Ultimately, she wants to help others believe that they too can turn a negative situation into a positive, and tap into dreams of their own.

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