The Youthlinc Utah Young Humanitarian Award has been recognizing service-minded Utah high school juniors and seniors and undergraduate students since 2005. Promoting humanitarianism among youth is the reason behind this annual tribute, made possible by the generous donations of the George S. & Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, the Robert D. Kent Jr Trust, the Michel Foundation, and the Low Family Foundation.
After considerable feedback over the last several years about the difficulties of judging college and high school students together, this year we split the Award into two separate scholarship tracks; one for high school students and one for college students.
In 2019, we will be offering one $5,000 scholarship, one $3,000 scholarship, and three $1,000 scholarships to five service minded high school students AND to five college students, as well. That is a total of $22,000 in scholarships, up from $13,500! Additionally, any student committed to attending the University of Utah will receive a matching scholarship from the Union Student Leader Scholarship Fund managed by the A. Ray Olpin University Union Building. We are beyond excited for these changes!
This year we received 131 applications from students across Utah! These applications have gone through a minimum of two rounds of judging to get to the final interview round taking place on Saturday, April 13th at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah Salt Lake Office. Wish them luck, and come meet our finalists on Saturday, May 11th at our Annual Benefit at the Utah Cultural Celebrations Center!
Top 5 High School Finalists:
Mishka Banuri, Senior at West High School
Mishka Banuri is an 18 year old organizer from Salt Lake City. As a Pakistani-American Muslim, she wants to build bridges among her different communities and empower them. She is the co-founder of the Utah Youth Environmental Solutions, an organization that engages young people in the environmental movement and is focused on connecting environmental and social justice issues. She also does anti-Islamophobia work, and is the Ambassador Director of the Emerald Project, an organization that is dedicated to fighting the misrepresentation of Islam through dialogue. She wants to build spaces for young Muslims in Utah where they feel safe from Islamophobia. Mishka is also a Teen Council member with Planned Parenthood, and teaches a variety of topics to her peers.
Emily Curtis, Senior at Woods Cross High School
Emily is currently a senior at Woods Cross High School and will be graduating at the top of her class this June. In her spare time she loves to play sports and is an Academic All State Basketball player and currently competes on the Woods Cross track and field team and plays soccer for Spectrum Academy. She loves being involved and being a part of everything she can. She is currently training to become a Certified Nursing Assistant and plans on working at Primary Children’s Hospital this summer. After graduating, Emily will attend the University of Utah’s honors college majoring in medical anatomy and physiology with a minor in psychology. She then plans on going to medical school to become a pediatric physician.
Kimberly Gammara, Senior at Innovations Early College High School
Kimberly Gamarra currently serves on the board of nonprofit, Generation of Latinos (GOL), as the Youth Coordinator, where she works to bring the promise of education, integration & empowerment to underrepresented students on a local, national and global scale through campaigns and motivational talks. She is also a Peer Mentor Leader for Salt Lake Community College’s Amigos Mentores – Peer Mentoring Program where she has mentored over 150+ students, young and old, of ethnic minority, and indigenous backgrounds in the subjects of Scholarship, Service, and College Curriculum (English, Mathematics, and Science). At the young age of 17, she will have dually completed her high school and Associates degree, and is currently on path to pursue Biochemistry at the University of Utah this upcoming Fall 2019 semester. She plans to apply for medical school with the intention to specialize in Pediatrics, and long-term work on enhancing healthcare for underprivileged indigenous communities. Ms. Gamarra is a firm believer that genuine service can positively impact and influence the life trajectory of a person and at large, a community.
Emily Langie, Senior at Hillcrest High School
Emily was born in North Carolina and has lived all over the country, but considers Utah to be her home. She has two younger brothers and a Goldendoodle named Doug. She is a senior at Hillcrest High School in the International Baccalaureate Program, and is working towards an IB diploma. She loves skiing, hiking, and anything outdoors.
Emily is currently participating in the 2019 Youthlinc Service Year as an alumni leader for the Nepal July team, and served last year on the Peru June team. She volunteers with Backyard Broadcast, an organization aimed at preventing and combating child trafficking; Assisteens, a nationwide teen-led service group; and participated in the Ulster Project, an international service project that works to mend the gap between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. She is so grateful for this opportunity and wants to thank everyone that has helped in her journey to becoming a young humanitarian.
Jeremy Whitaker, Senior at Davis High School
As one of six children in his family, Jeremy has always enjoyed being in the middle of everything: the planner, the talker, the debater, the instigator, the antagonist, the prankster, the helper. His skills in talking and debating–perfected on his siblings and parents–led him to be a State Debate champion and winner of the University of Utah Tournament of Excellence. He further learned the value of his unique skill set during his first big service project, Coins for Kenya in sixth grade. This kindled in Jeremy a strong interest in service that has grown ever since, leading him to deep involvement in the Kaysville Youth Court, the Kaysville City Youth Community Council, and the Interact club. Jeremy’s talent for entertaining and getting others involved helped him thrive in junior committee, as a debate officer, as a manager at FiiZ Drinks, and as the Student Body Vice President at Davis High. His love for children led him to return to Peru with Youthlinc this year and to start the Kaysville City Youth Pickleball program. Jeremy will head to Provo this fall to begin his freshman year at BYU.
Top 5 College Finalists:
Madison Sudweeks, Junior at the University of Utah
Madi is a junior studying History and Social Work with a Spanish minor at the University of Utah. Service, especially in the area of refugee and immigrant rights, has been a key part of her life ever since she first got involved with the Real Life program in high school. She incorporates service in every aspect of her life: from raising service dogs to supporting friends and family, tutoring immigrants in English to advocating on social justice issues. There is nothing she is more passionate about than sharing her love for service with others. Madi has traveled to more than 17 countries and enjoys learning about new cultures. She lived in Spain for 5 months and practiced her Spanish skills while volunteering in a local refugee center and exploring on the weekends. During her free time she loves to read, spend time at the dog park, try new restaurants in the Salt Lake area, and plan her next big adventure.
Jessica Ivie, Junior at Utah State University
Jessica is a traveler, teacher, and most importantly a learner. She has enjoyed working with and serving people from all walks of life. She has established electronics curriculum and brought it to low income and rural schools across Utah. She has also enjoyed mentoring entrepreneurial youth, establishing a micro lending non-profit, and making service learning more accessible. When asked her favorite aspect of her service, she stated “I’ve loved growing and learning with others. Service is always two-sided, and I’ve appreciated getting to know so many phenomenal people that are changing the world.”
Tiffany Taghvalee, Sophmore at Westminster College
Tiffany Taghvaiee is a sophomore Honors student and Legacy Scholar at Westminster College, majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Music. On campus, she is the Secretary of the Student Honors Council and the National Liason of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), an organization dedicated to supporting and advocating for historically underrepresented students in STEM. Tiffany is also the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Generation Project, a mentoring program which enlists Taylorsville High School students to volunteer as mentors for 6th grade students at Plymouth Elementary, a Title I elementary school. Like the students she serves, Tiffany knows how important a mentor can be in helping students defy the odds set against them. A great part of her success has been thanks to mentors who have made an impact in her own life. In the future, Tiffany hopes to become a software engineer that can continue to help other first generation and underrepresented students gain influence in STEM.
Paige Remington, Junior at the University of Utah
Paige Remington is a 4th year student at the University of Utah majoring in Health, Society, and Policy and International Studies with minors in Biomedical Engineering and Sociology. Before starting at the University of Utah, she became actively involved with her community through Skyline High School’s Community of Caring club. In her director position, she led a team of 15 engaged students, organized a day-long educational fieldtrip for 100 Title 1 elementary students, and volunteered over 400 hours with local organizations. Additionally, she spent over nine weeks in India and Ghana implementing sustainable health procedures and renovating two primary schools. Once Paige started college, she became more civically engaged by working with the Bennion Center, Guadalupe School, and Engineers without Borders. In her three years with the Bennion Center, she has assisted in implementing new initiatives such as a campus-wide “Kindness Week”, served on the Executive Committee to communicate student needs to staff, and participated on an alternative spring break addressing the issue of homelessness in Seattle, Washington. Paige now works at Sorenson Impact Center, a non-profit commiteed to use capital for social good and will be moving to Sydney, Australia this summer to intern with the United States Studies Center.
Matthew Spurrier, Junior at the University of Utah
Matthew Spurrier is a Junior at the University of Utah studying Health, Society & Policy with a Minor in Psychology. His goal is to always be a part of the “change” wherever his career and life takes him. Matthew started Maji to create change within the youth of our local community, and help some of Utah’s most vulnerable populations! He enjoys the small moments service brings, like seeing someone smile, getting someone the supplies or aid they need, or simply knowing he was able to increase someone’s well-being in some small or large way! Matthew is also currently doing research at the Moran Eye center, in hopes to one day restore vision to the visually impaired. Whatever life brings, Matthew will always be a lifetime Humanitarian, looking for ways to “lift the hands which hang low’ around him.