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A Challenge to Cross Barriers: 2011 Utah Young Humanitarian makes inclusion a way of life
“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 a $5,000 college scholarship – the state’s largest service scholarship – by an independent panel of community leaders.
Youthlinc, a Utah based local and international service program for youth, annually organizes the Utah Young Humanitarian Award, funded by the George S. & Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation. The purpose of the Award is to recognize Utah young people who excel at giving back to the community.
“Cara’s service leadership, which spans the last five years of her young life, is consistently focused on inclusion,” says Youthlinc Local Service Director Julia Wee. Cerise, who serves on the Board of Director’s for Salt Lake’s Inclusion Center, founded the Utah Chapter of COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere) when she was 16 years old.
She has worked locally and internationally in the area of HIV Prevention and Woman’s Health, volunteering as an intern and Spanish translator with the Utah Pride Center, and in Paraguay with HIV positive, indigenous and impoverished youth.
Her commitment to inclusion extends beyond sexual orientation and a disease that can cause social shunning. In Paraguay, Cerise also worked with kids with disabilities, a group not integrated into that nation’s public school system, but relegated to poorly funded and staffed facilities.
As a junior and senior in high school, Cara was president of BOND (Building One New Dream), a social justice club working to break barriers between social groups. For the past five years, as a counselor at Camp Anytown, she has mentored other youth through examinations of prejudice, culture, and communication.
“In addition to all her volunteer work,” says Hande Togrul, Adult Program Director for the Inclusion Center, “Cara is an exceptional full-time student with a 3.98 GPA, a dedicated gymnastics coach, a domestic care provider. I don’t know how she takes on all these involvements, but she does so with a tirelessly up-beat and positive attitude. For her, social justice is not an idea. It’s a way of life.”
For more information about the Youthlinc Utah Young Humanitarian Award and the 2011 recipient, Cara Cerise, contact Youthlinc Local Service Director, Julia Wee 801-467-4417 email@example.com
For more information about Youthlinc and all our service programs, visit our website www.youthlinc.org
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