The program afforded her educational opportunities she may not have had otherwise, said Murray, but it was being able to connect with other people just like her that was perhaps invaluable.
"When you go to a majority Caucasian school, it can feel like no one understands you or gets where you're coming from. Going to that type of program where everyone shares the same feelings, it becomes a family and I heard that from all different YMCAs across the Capital District," said Murray.
"You can always go to these people if you're having problems at home, friends or school. Everyone is really close."
Johnson too echoed the "family feel" of the group and said the younger that students get involved, the better.
"I'm excited for my future and the people who will be going through the program after me. I feel like they'll go really far if they use all the opportunities and resources," said Johnson. "I want people to take advantage of it because it's very rare that people are trying to help you you're your life and be more successful because sometimes people don't care and you need some sort of support system."
Johnson is already moved into college at Hampton University where she's taking a summer session. Right now her sights are set on broadcast journalism and art history but being a senator is her secret dream.
Adult Achievers from local organizations were recognized for their contributions to and support of various aspects of the program. The other 19 Youth Achievers were recognized from Schenectady High School, Troy High School, Guilderland High School, Bethlehem Central High School, Voorheesville High School, Albany High School, Colonie High School, Schalmont High School and more. Information about the program is available at www.cdymca.com.