2014 Young Humanitarian Finalists
This year, we had 117 applications from all over the state. A panel of judges comprised of community leaders selected our Utah Young Humanitarian, which will be announced at our Annual Benefit, May 17 at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center. Click here for more details on the Annual Benefit.
The Youthlinc Utah Young Humanitarian Award is a $5,000 college scholarship rewarded to an altruistic young person who strives to serve the local and global community each year. Three runner ups will receive a $1,000 college scholarship.
Though our society recognizes young people for their accomplishments in sports and academics, this is an award that celebrates outstanding humanitarian service among youth. Promoting humanitarian service among youth is the reason behind this annual tribute, sponsored in its ninth year by the George S & Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation. High school students and undergraduate students are eligible to apply.
Our 2014 Young Humanitarian Award Judges were:
- Julie Davis — President, The Association of Youth Councils
- David Buhler — Utah Commissioner of Higher Education
- Alexis Bucknam — Executive Director of Utah Campus Compact
- Megan Dolle — 2013 Young Humanitarian Award winner
- Erin Wright — George & Dolores Eccles Foundation
- Jerika Mays — Michel Foundation
- Brenda Hall — Board Member, CEO Dassity, Inc.
- Rob Berman — Partner/Nate Wade Subaru
The Youthlinc Young Humanitarian Award is sponsored by:
2014 Award Winner
Senior at Cottonwood High School
When Madison learned that every year 100,000 American children are forced into sex trafficking, she was determined to do something. She started educating herself, and started a school chapter of Backyard Broadcast—a nation-wide youth movement to combat child slavery. As she learned of the horrors of trafficking, she became “more motivated than ever to make a difference.” Although she was scared to go to the community with a topic like sex slavery, Madison started speaking out, talking to city and county councils, the governor’s office, the attorney general, and eventually testified on two bills on human trafficking at the past two legislative sessions—both bills passed unanimously. One of her recommenders writes, “Madi demonstrates remarkable leadership and courage beyond her years. Giving herself is at the core of all she cares about.” As Madison continues on her path as a humanitarian, she writes, “No matter how difficult, my voice will be heard. I will make a difference.”
2014 Award Finalists
Senior at the University of Utah
Throughout her life of service, Emily has found a niche at the Women’s Resource Center (WRC). Since 2012, Emily has become a respected leader, volunteering up to 10 hours a week to empower first generation, female students of color. Emily also sits on the YWCA’s Young Women’s Council. As a tireless advocate for social justice, Emily is a force for good, helping teach and connect women to resources that will improve their lives. Emily writes, “I became aware of the struggles that others face, and came to the conclusion that helping others is the most important thing in life.” Today, her life goals revolve around service.
Senior at Utah State University
Stephanie, like so many of her peers, felt a sense of helplessness when considering global scale issues. But, as she writes, “starting small, creating ripples and inspiring others to do the same is what I can bring to my community.” In this way, Stephanie has made a lasting impact. She has served thousands of hours at the DOVE Center Woman’s Shelter, Dixie Care and Share, Hope Chest Thrift Store and AmeriCorps, and helped raise over $15,000 towards the Huntsman Cancer Center. What makes Stephanie an outstanding humanitarian is her ability to ignite the passion of service in others, and inspire them to action. Her recommender writes, “The students she mentors experience what it means to have someone sincerely care about them. They in turn begin to care for themselves and others.”
Junior at Brigham Young University
As founder and CEO of LIMITLESS, a non-profit focused on creating awareness about diabetes, Brian has already made an enormous impact in his community, raising thousands of dollars and educating hundreds of middle schoolers about how to stay healthy. Over his life, Brian has consistently volunteered and advocated for people with special needs, starting the Special Olympics Track and Field program at BYU. As head coach for Special Olympics, his life was touched by a young boy in a wheelchair when after a season of coaching the boy learned how to bowl a strike. Brian realized that with the right tools, and unconditional love, “every human soul is limitless.” Since then, Brian has been passionate about improving the quality of life for others.
2013 Award Winner
Megan Dolle – 2013 Winner
Megan is a student at the University of Utah pursuing a double major in Spanish and International Studies. She is a student at the Honors College and is a part of the Bennion Center Community Engaged Learning Certificate Program. One of Megan’s most fondest service activities was her trip to Yanamono, Peru with Youthlinc in 2012. She taught lessons on public health, built bridges, painted classrooms, taught English and aided in micro-finance and vocational activities. She will be visiting Yanamono again in 2013 with Youthlinc as a Cultural Committee Mentor. Megan has also served with the Real Life Salt Lake City (RLSLC) mentoring program for teenage refugees for the past two years. This year, she serves as the Youthlinc Local Service Intern and has been able to develop meaningful friendships with both refugees and volunteers at RLSLC. In addition, Megan has been involved with and held leadership positions in a variety of service clubs and organizations including Salt Lake County Youth Government, ONE.org, Good in the Hood, Salt Lake City Rotaract, ASUU Community Service, and more. Megan strives to set an example for her peers and inspire them to make a difference in their community. She has learned the value of meaningful, dedicated service to communities and the profound life-changing effects it provokes. Megan has discovered what it takes to be a true humanitarian and will continue pursuing her passion for service.
2013 Award Finalists
These outstanding service leaders receive a $1,000 college scholarship
Throughout Ruth’s life she has had an insatiable wanderlust and passion to not just learn about but to truly know other cultures and people of the world. Despite an evolving home and family life, she has persevered in her studies and maintained a hunger to understand the world. She jumped feet first into the field of culinary arts at a young age and allowed her love of food and passion of culture to take her through multiple countries and life changing experiences. Her work and ambitions led her to return to Salt Lake in 2007 with the desire to work with many communities locally. Ranging from simple volunteer work with the Red Cross and the 4th Street Clinic to working extensively within many refugee communities, Ruth has had her hand in many worthy causes right here in Utah. Working with and mentoring youth, teaching English, working with Women of the World, educating on domestic and sexual violence, working with immigrant populations, working on climate justice, fundraising, and doing outreach are all tasks that Ruth currently takes on with excitement and determination.
Sena is a student at the University of Utah studying Human Development and Family Studies with a minor in Leadership Studies. She holds multiple student leader positions in the Bennion Center, is a service-learning scholar and a member of the scholar’s leadership team. Sena is a program director for the Social Justice Gardens where she teaches underprivileged students and their parents how to grow fresh food in their community. Sena’s service goals are to impact her community by continuing to serve the families who garden at the Social Justice Gardens, finish the service-learning scholars designation with her degree and continue to serve and make an impact in others lives.
Jessie is a second year student at the University of Utah studying Psychology and Human Biology in the Honors Program. This year, she has worked as a Sustainability Ambassador at the Office of Sustainability on campus and currently works with the youth at Red Butte Garden teaching kids’ science classes. Jessie remains involved on campus as she pursues and assists with research in the Psychology Department in a Health Psych and Developmental Psych lab. She has focused her service efforts on engaging others in service at her position as the Bennion Center Service Corps Chair, and assists in a special education classroom at Bryant Middle School where she has fallen in love with her students.
2012 Award Winner
Lisa Moynihan – 2012 YHA Winner
“Men and women working for and with others” – this Jesuit motto has inspired Lisa’s commitment to service. Lisa, a senior at the University of Utah, will graduate with a BA in History and an Honors Certificate. Lisa served as the Intern for Youthlinc’s Real Life in Salt Lake City program which is a mentoring program for refugee teens. She is also a member of the Youthlinc 2012 Peru Team traveling to Yanamono, Peru this July. Lisa has organized a school wide food drive for the Utah Food Bank in 2008. She has been a College Buddy for the Best Buddies Program which fosters friendships between students and young adults with intellectual disabilities. She also participated as a mentor in the International Rescue Committee’s Youth program. In 2010 she was a member of the Youthlinc Kenya team and contributed over 100 local service hours before her trip to Kiamuri, Kenya where she taught, started a library, helped build a school, and fulfilled a lifelong dream of dancing in Africa!
2012 Award Finalists
These outstanding service leaders receive $1,000 college scholarship:
Whitney has raised funds to serve in El Salvador where she promoted healthy living, nutrition, and dance therapy lessons for troubled youth and orphans. During her stay, she started to grasp an understanding of global poverty in Central America, but also in many places around the world. She continued her service for the next few years in the Fijian Islands, Russia, and Uganda. In her endeavor to fight poverty, she has found opportunities to serve locally. Last year she worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer promoting healthy living to low-income families and currently mentors African women refugees with the Salt Lake City Chapter of the International Refugee Committee. With her desire to continue living altruistically, she has since returned to school for a second bachelor degree to study nursing at the University of Utah. With a background in health, she plans to continue advocating for the less fortunate while finding opportunities to improve health education.
James is currently a student at Utah State University and will be transferring to the University of Utah in the fall of 2012. In 2005 James cofounded with his parents Youth Making A Difference (YMAD) and helped take 20 high school students to Northern India to work with four different orphanages. In August 2009 he moved to Kulu India for four months and opened The Home for Peace, YMAD’s first orphanage. While there, he moved seven children into the facility, enrolled them in school, taught English, and helped build a sustainable curriculum for the orphanage. James is still very involved with YMAD and serves as an active member of the board of directors and as Country Director for summer college expeditions.
McKenzie has served as the Student Body Service Officer, a National Honor Society Representative, a Sports Marketing Team member, and Girls Soccer team captain. McKenzie organized a yearlong project called “Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed Mission” where the group found ordinary ways to make extraordinary differences in the lives of others. She recognizes that often times some of the most meaningful service opportunities come as people are just going about their daily lives. Serving is a big part of her life and has taught her how to sincerely care about the circumstances of others. She has learned that she can always make a difference in the life of a friend, family member, leader, teacher, acquaintance, and even a stranger.
2011 Award Winners
Cara Cerise – 2011 YHA Winner
A humanitarian stands up against bigotry, is actively engaged in his/her community, embraces the humanity of others, and uses empathy to show the world we are one.” These words become daily action for Westminster College sophomore, Cara Cerise, who was awarded the title of the 2011 Utah’s Young Humanitarian. Cara is dedicated to the equality and inclusion of all people no matter what age, race, social status, religion or sexual orientation. She served as a camp counselor at Camp Anytown, a human relations/student leadership retreat ran by the Inclusion Center for Community and Justice and has been a dedicated volunteer since. At age 16 she became president of her high school’s social justice club, BOND (Building One New Dream), and founded the Utah chapter of COLAGE: People with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Parents. After high school, Cara spent a year living in Paraguay working with the organization Amor y Esperanza where she worked hands-on with special needs elementary students in the rural villages. Now she serves on the Board of Directors of the Inclusion Center for Community and Justice. Cara is working toward HIV prevention as a Woman’s Health Intern at the Utah Pride Center where she is also a translator.
2011 Award Finalists
These outstanding service leaders receive $1,000 college scholarship:
Andrew Hagedorn has directed his passion for service toward the homeless in Salt Lake City. Has been involved with Youth for Youth for the last four years where they have been raising money for the Road Home and is president of the Youth Government Commission. Through his leadership, the groups met their goal of raising over $200,000. They have raised enough money to open two houses for aged-out foster care teens and are in the process of building housing units that will provide housing, case workers, and a transitional shelter for the homeless in Salt Lake. Andrew has also has served with the Neighborhood House, Peer Court and The Children’s Center. He travelled to Mexico on a Youthlinc humanitarian trip in 2010. He believes, “A humanitarian works for change. A volunteer is someone who shows up to help.” Andrew continues to do both.
Emily Gillespie was raised with a firm belief in hard work and service. As a senior at Timpview High School she began and was president of the HOPE taskforce for three years where she worked with the school social workers and counselors to help at-risk students with depression. Emily also volunteered at Canary Garden Family Grief Counseling Center helping those coping with the recent loss of a loved one. After high school she had the opportunity to spend time in Mexico working on projects in two orphanages and building homes for poor families. As a student at Utah Valley University, she spent the summer of 2008 in Uganda with HELP International holding teacher improvement classes, building libraries and adobe stoves and working with children with disabilities and their care takers. She was able to help in the recovery efforts of the February 2010 earthquake in Machali while serving her LDS mission in Chile. She has been volunteering with the Service-Learning community at UVU and plans to attend graduate school to study to be a recreational therapist and continue to serve.
As a senior at Judge Memorial Catholic High School, Jeffrey is the development manager and founder of the Apache Project, a partnership between St. Charles Elementary on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation and Judge Memorial. When Jeffrey first visited the Apache Reservations he was appalled by the poverty and hopelessness. Since that visit the Apache Project has sent over 3.5 tons of school supplies and clothing to the Reservation. Jeffrey plans to study medicine and return to the reservation to work as a physician. In addition to his dedication to the Apache Project, Jeffrey has also worked with the Ulster Peace Project since 2008 which promotes peace in Northern Ireland by hosting workshops in Salt Lake focused on communication and conflict resolution. He is Student Body President at Judge Memorial and is a member of Rotary Interact Club.
2010 Award Winners
Kajsa Vlasic – 2010 Winner
Kajsa loves to immerse herself in any culture or situation where there is a need. While attending West High, Kajsa volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters, ESL tutoring, Girls on the Run (acting as a mentor and coach to at risk teens), and the International Rescue Committee, mentoring refugee families in Salt Lake City. While juggling all these service activities, she was able to graduate with an International Baccalaureate diploma. While dedicating many hours each week to serving locally, she has also found time to serve internationally in Kenya and Costa Rica, with Youthlinc and Amigos respectively. Kajsa says, “I see myself as a humanitarian because I am happiest when I serve. The experience I have had serving others has helped me to be both more independent and more humble.”
2010 Award Finalists
These outstanding service leaders receive $1,000 college scholarship:
Brian started his humanitarian journey with Boy Scouts. In college he was president of his Rotaract club, leading various local service projects including canned food drives and raising money to provide wheelchairs to needy children around the world. In 2008 he traveled to Uganda for 3-months to work with local teachers, improving their skills and helping assess village needs. “Brian put his heart and soul into his work, set high goals for himself, and pushed continually to make them happen,” says Meghan Muyanja, the Uganda Project Manager. Brian wants a career in medicine, currently attending Southern Utah University. Brian says, “My belief is the greatest humanitarian effort we can possibly render to others is providing them with the skills, education, and opportunity to help themselves.”
Jerika’s humanitarian spirit has touched lives in Utah, Kenya, Mexico, Venezuela, and Brazil. In 2006 Jerika was instrumental in founding the Brighton H.S. Interact Club. Jerika currently belongs to the Salt Lake Rotaract Club, will be Service Coordinator for the Westminster College Institute of Religion, and is a Trustee of the Michel Foundation serving Utah Youth and other worthy organizations locally. Jerika volunteers teaching English to adult refugees from Burundi with the ESL Center, and tends her ‘Service Garden’ in Sandy, growing produce donated to local food charities. She wants to examine the impact and effectiveness a small garden could have in relieving hunger in the community. Jerika says, “It is not always large, complicated projects that make a humanitarian, it is a constant awareness of others’ needs both big and small and trying to help your community and world.”
For the last 4 years Hanne has dedicated her time to the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center, logging nearly 1500 hours, and becoming their first certified master programmer. Hanne’s principal service goal is to inspire girls of all backgrounds to pursue education in science, technology, engineering and math. Hanne graduated from West H.S with an International Baccalaureate diploma and was a West High Service Learning Scholar. At West, Hanne tutored English Language Learners, assisting in after school events and home visits, and helped establish a comprehensive ELL program. Hanne says, “Everyone benefits when we use our own passions to help those in need. My greatest experiences have been sharing my love of learning and the empowerment it brings with students seeking higher education, classroom skills and, most importantly, dignity.”
Ryan volunteers at the Therapeutic Preschool at the Salt Lake Children’s Center. When local food banks were low on resources, Ryan – not wanting to see any of the Center’s children go hungry – started a very successful food drive with donations coming in from all over the valley. Penney Gregersen of the Children’s Center says, “Ryan stands out among the other volunteers because he quietly and steadily works to improve conditions for real people in concrete ways.” Ryan, a Pre-Professional Physics major at the University of Utah, says he is “ever striving to find the balance between academics and humanitarian endeavors” and is happiest when the two merge. For example, Ryan has developed a tutoring support program for Math and Science students. He serves as the Bennion Center’s Student Program Chair, responsible for leading U of U students in humanitarian service.