By Angela Barbosa
Like many youth, Jessica Andrade’s American Dream is to be able to succeed in the land of opportunity. Her journey toward that path has certainly been filled with challenges; however, her determination to make every second a step toward her goal has earned her the title of the Youth of Year, named by the Exchange Club of Waterbury on March 25 at LaBella Vista in Waterbury. In its eleventh year, the Dr. Lawrence J. Shea Awards Banquet presents awards and scholarships to students and community leaders. The dinner is named in honor of Dr. Larry Shea, one of the founders of the Exchange Club of Waterbury, and its first president. Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Jessica, a student at W. F. Kaynor Technical High School, plans to pursue a pre-medical major at Charleston Southern University in South Carolina. For Jessica, being nominated the Youth of the Year has a meaning beyond the actual physical award. “This award represents God`s unfailing love to me. It represents the prayers of my family and church. It represents God`s faithfulness,” she said, adding, “Without God, I wouldn`t have achieved anything. It is thanks to God that I am who I am today. He has blessed me with so much and this award represents another amazing blessing.” Jessica is daughter to Luiza Lapinski and Antônio Andrade. They live in Waterbury, CT, with her siblings Michael and Juliana Lapinski.