An Elkhart Club member, who was a Youth Of The Year winner, now has two more accomplishments to add to his resume. Zayris “Zuno” Dillon is now a high school graduate and winner of the Taco Bell Live Mas scholarship for $25,000.
Dillon is one of two winners in our area to get the scholarship and says he was shocked when he found out he won. He had applied once before, but this year he found a winning combination.
“I submitted a video with a building I had worked on with J.A. Wagner Construction as an intern. You had to explain how you would use the money and what you would do after your training,” he said. “I didn’t think I would win while we were shooting the video, but I was trying to be positive. After I submitted it, I had a little more hope.”
Taco Bell reached out to Dillon, but didn’t tell him he had won. He thought a zoom call meant that they wanted to talk to him as a finalist.
“They sent me a package and told me not to open it until the zoom call. During the call, they told me to look inside and I found the check. I was stunned,” he said.
Dillon has lofty goals on how to use the money for his future. He wants to get training so that he can eventually own a construction company and work on commercial and home building.
“I now realize why everyone was pushing me so hard to finish high school,” he said.
Dillon admits he needed that push from his teachers and the staff at the Boys & Girls Club. During the pandemic and remote learning, Dillon found it difficult to stay engaged in classes and stopped going online. Dillon eventually went back to in-person classes, but still struggled with the new normal.
“I still didn’t think the classes were the same. A lot of kids were still online. I wasn’t feeling the experience,” he said.
He returned to online learning, but still struggled with self-discipline.
“It wasn’t like me. I’m usually self-motivated,” Dillon said. “I had time to really think and I realized I was staying out too late. I knew I had to stop the excuses and get stuff done.”
He started talking to his counselors and says he began to see what everyone else was seeing – the end of high school was so close. He credits his teachers and the Club staff for getting him back on track.
“I am so proud of Zayris. He is the first one in his immediate family to graduate high school. The pandemic was tough on a lot of students, Zayris is no different, but he continued to fight towards his goal,” said Rubin Nieto II, Elkhart Club director.
“The pandemic was tough on a lot of students, Zayris is no different, but he continued to fight towards his goal.”
Nieto says he’s excited to watch the future unfold and says Dillon can do anything if he puts his mind to it and sets it as a goal.
“At graduation, I was thinking about all the teachers, Mr. Rubin, Mr. Q and the staff who have been rooting for me. When I heard my mom scream (when he received his diploma) I got a big smile. It became even more real,” he said. “I feel like they have helped my life in general, but graduation was an achievement they helped me through.”
He says the people at Club share a mutual love for which he’s grateful.
“So many people… there’s always someone I can call. If there’s a problem, they are there to help me.”
And now Dillon wants to let others know the lesson he’s learned.
“I’m going to stay connected with Club. You can take the lion out of the wild, but you can’t take the wild out of the lion.”
“I want people to see they can do it, too,” he said. “I’m going to stay connected with Club. You can take the lion out of the wild, but you can’t take the wild out of the lion. I will stay involved with this Club or a Club somewhere else. It will always be a part of me.”
He wants other kids to see there a many paths in life and it’s not just about the path you see in front of you.
“There are opportunities if you work hard,” Dillon said.
CLICK TO BECOME A CLUB MEMBER