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Dolphin Awards Spotlight Boys & Girls Club Malibu Youth

Home is where the heart is, and those who call Malibu home know that its citizens are the heart and soul of the community. Each year, locals whose actions help make this town a wonderful place to live are recognized for their various contributions with the presentation of the Dolphin Awards.

Created by the Malibu Charitable Foundation to “provide recognition and support to the many worthwhile and inspirational individuals, organizations and community projects that enhance the quality of life for the Malibu Community and beyond,” the Malibu Dolphin Citizens of the Year awards honor recipients for their contributions in a multitude of fields, including environmental protection, wildlife rescue, education, literacy, the arts, health and safety, disaster prevention and relief, homeless services and teen programs.

This year, three members of the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu were nominated as Dolphin Youth Awardees. Congratulations to students Emily Pablo, Sharlene Diaz and Irina Columbeanu for their outstanding achievements!

Emily Pablo

A sophomore at Malibu High School, Emily has been a Boys & Girls Club member for 5+ years. She is an influential leader amongst her peers and is always reminding them of the importance of respecting and including others. Emily is an advocate, and like the best advocates, she is both ambitious and tenacious.

She is someone who is constantly setting goals and diligently achieves them– taking college courses in the summer and academic planning to ensure a better future. Emily has been preparing for college since day one of her high school experience, and she is very inquisitive about how to make herself stand out in a way that is true to who she is. Known for her captivating storytelling, Emily uses her wit and eloquence to her power to create change within the community. Emily’s inquisitive nature and attention to detail will be advantageous to her aspirations of being a journalist. Emily will not pass up any opportunity to accelerate her academic progress. She is a member of and the soon-to-be president of the Education Foundation, a club on campus that gets school supplies to youth in third-world countries. Emily is also involved in Boys & Girls of Malibu Club programs, including Empowered Voices (a social-emotional learning program where students better understand resiliency, empathy for others and mental health), Brent’s Club, LIT, DEI programs and Kollab. Emily is a leader in her way; she can examine situations through considerable lenses and encourage her peers to be open to diverse ways of thinking.

Emily’s advocacy is not only demonstrated through her programs, but how she engages with her peers. Emily leads by example and shows those around her the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. She is a track team member and stays physically active. She is the soon-to-be Brent’s Club ambassador in the afterschool format and is committed to a drug-free lifestyle. Emily is always the first to participate in any Brent’s Club service opportunity, such as writing letters to seniors and those serving in the military. She knows the importance of mental health and practices self-care. She is an avid reader who could easily read an entire book in one setting and a pursuer of knowledge and truth. In the past year, she has accumulated over 20 volunteer hours and is constantly asking for new ways to get involved in the community. Whatever she dedicates herself to, you can count on Emily to make a difference for the better.

Sharlene Diaz

Sharlene is a diligent and thoughtful young person. She may not be the first person to interject with her opinion in a crowded room, but when she does you know it will be words of encouragement. She demonstrates incredible leadership in her kindness, care and ability to approach any situation with compassion and mindfulness. If there is a service activity, such as a Beach Clean Up, Sharlene is always encouraging her friend group to join in. Sharlene, a sophomore at Malibu High School, can often be found in the Learning Center at the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu. Whether she is on her own or amongst friends, she is almost always learning. Her work ethic is noticeable and admirable. If you know Sharlene, you have seen her in her thought process, working something out. She is exceptionally brilliant in both science and mathematics and is a beautiful artist. Her art is thought provoking and she is gifted at taking a simple art activity and turning it into a meaningful piece.

She aspires to be an architect, which compliments her natural abilities superbly. Her dreams of being an architect are encouraged by wanting to do good for the world and she hopes to use her talents of architecture to design affordable housing. If someone is in need, she is always there for them. She is an exceptional listener and will provide advice to peers with care. She is an excellent decision maker and not easily influenced by peer pressure. She is a Brent’s Club (drug prevention program) member who is committed to living a healthy and drug-free lifestyle. Sharlene always takes in consideration the consequences of her actions and will always refrain from participating in activities that might pull her away from her goals. All this hard work has paid off—she is a star student and an active athlete, competing in multiple events on the Varsity track team. She regularly volunteers with the LIT program at the Club, with 20 community service hours this year. Her smile is contagious and indicative of the kindness she demonstrates. Always welcoming and never judging others, Sharlene makes every room she shares a little bit brighter through offering a safe space for all.

Irina Columbeanu

Irina may only be a freshman in high school, but if you read her list of accomplishments and accolades, you would never know it. Irina, a multilingual immigrant from Romania who moved here in sixth grade, participates in many Club extracurricular activities as well as sports. Irina’s ability to empathize with others is remarkable, and she is an ally to many and utilizes her opportunities to bridge barriers. Irina is always thinking about how she can be a better ally to others and she demonstrates her commitment to being an ally with her actions. She has a strong aptitude for compassion and care for others that is truly one of a kind. 

An all-star student at MHS and a leader at the Boys & Girls Club, Irina impresses everyone she meets. She is always involved in the community; she is a leader in ASB at MHS and the Founder and President of Brent’s Club on Campus, a drug prevention and healthy lifestyle program. She has had a significant impact on encouraging teens to participate in Brent’s Club. In the past year, in spite of a global pandemic, she has volunteered over 40 hours to help improve the lives of others. Notably, she learned robotics to help build mobility devices for children with disabilities as part of Leaders in Training, a service and leadership program at BGCM.

Irina is also an athlete with many talents, competing in basketball, tennis, and track and field. An incredibly gifted communicator, Irina participates in Clubs like Model UN, Mock Trial and Positive Poets to practice her wordsmith and rhetoric skills and become an advocate for change. This past winter, Irina was nominated for the Youth of the Year Award, a leadership and recognition award, where she was the sole freshman competing against juniors and seniors. Irina is ambitious and has a vision for her future that she has worked hard to manifest. She hopes to become a neurosurgeon, a lawyer or a writer one day.

To nominate an individual or organization for a Dolphin Award, email

  • Emily
  • Irina
  • Sharlene