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‘I think this person will be surprised to hear their name called,” Mr. Fletcher announced to the crowd at the 2020 Boys Ranch Awards Banquet. In one hand was a microphone and in the other was the highest award given at this event: the Program Director’s Award. “But they will forever remember the night when they heard the name… Adrianna.”

Adrianna, known by everyone at the Ranch as A.J., made her way up to the stage to receive her award, one hand on the stair rail and the other lifting up the front of her white and gold evening gown. As Mr. Fletcher predicted, she was very surprised to be handed the glass trophy inscribed with her name. “I thought I was in trouble,” A.J. remembered. “Adrianna is my ‘getting in trouble’ name.”

When she looked out at the crowd, A.J. caught sight of her cottage mom holding back tears. A.J. is a quiet, reserved young lady. She keeps her head down, works hard, and supports her cottage behind the scenes whenever she can. Despite keeping a low profile, her work ethic and dedication are evident to everyone around her. Her on-campus job at the Ranch is working with the Maintenance department. She can often be seen mowing grass, planting flower beds, and maintaining other areas around campus.

“When I was little I kind of grew up helping people mow grass and stuff. So I already know how to do this.” The work is familiar and rewarding. “I like to show off a little bit,” A.J. admitted.

“I like to get the job done. If I’m mowing, I want to get the job done. If I want to get the plants planted, I have to get that job done.”

This attitude earned A.J. a second award at the banquet: Hardest Worker. “A lot of you lead by example,” Mr. Howard, who works in Maintenance at the Boys Ranch, said to the crowd. “I couldn’t be more proud to work alongside you. But I’m happy with this choice because…she works for me,” he said, grinning.

Along with a strong work ethic, A.J. is also known for her determination. Once she puts her mind to something, she finishes it. When signups opened on campus for Riding Ranchers, A.J. was one of the many Ranchers who showed up to the meeting. One of the most difficult things Riding Ranchers have to do is learn a choreographed riding routine for the Boys Ranch Open House Grand Entry ceremony.

“It’s easy when I picture it in my head,” A.J. explained, “but when you’re trying to control a horse that’s really stubborn, it’s tough.”

Despite being thrown from her horse a few times during practice, A.J. got up, brushed herself off, and got right back into the saddle. Her perseverance and drive to pursue what she wants is reinforced by the support she receives from her cottage family. “Here it’s really different, especially my cottage parents. Here we do things as a group.” When A.J. needs support, she
knows she can go to her cottage mom and talk. “I used to be super quiet and by myself,” she explained. “And now, since I’ve been here, I’ve bloomed like a flower.”

After she graduates high school next year, A.J. wants to find a job and an apartment so she can be close to her family. Living at the Ranch has given A.J. a chance to flourish and has put her on track for a successful future.

“This place has helped me so much,” she said. “I’m always smiling and I like to put smiles on other people’s faces.”