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.
She writes: “For the past few years I have had the privilege of serving a variety of communities in need around Utah. My early service experiences mostly consisted of advocating for and serving homeless youth with Salt Lake County Youth Government. We engaged in different activities including serving dinner, speaking for grant support, hosting a 30-hour famine, organizing fundraisers, hosting guest speakers, etc. During my last year with this group I served as the President and helped organize a multi high school fundraiser for Volunteers of America.
I always enjoyed the service I did with SLC Youth Government and loved getting my peers involved with our projects. Although, looking back, I still believe I fell short of my definition of a “humanitarian”. I had no idea that my Youthlinc experience would change this forever. In July 2012 I accompanied my team to the village of Yanamono II, Peru. We spent two weeks in the Amazon Jungle serving a small 150-person village. Over this time I developed personal relationships with many of the individuals; kids and elderly alike. Saying goodbye to Yanamono II was one of the hardest things I have yet to experience. It felt so wrong for me to leave. As I thought deeply about my experience with these people, I realized why it was so different from my previous service. Never before had I been able to make such personal friendships with the individuals I served. I realized that if I wanted to hold on to this feeling I needed to devote myself to those I serve and develop a lasting bond. That was the key to becoming a humanitarian. Long-term, personal, committed service to communities in need.
I knew that my first step with this knowledge would be continuing my service with Youthlinc’s local service site Real Life in Salt Lake City (RLSLC). When I returned from Peru I applied to be the RLSLC Intern and was accepted. I made a goal to become friends with both teens and volunteers while also acting as a kind leader and mentor. These personal relationships often take me back to my experiences in Yanamono II.
I was absolutely blown away when my name was announced as the winner of the 2013 Utah Young Humanitarian Award, as it is an incredibly humbling honor. I thank all of the lifetime humanitarians who helped me get to this point, as well as the communities I have served that touched my heart in special ways. Thank you to my loving parents and family who gave me the skills I needed to become my own person. I am grateful for the small challenges I have faced and the lessons I continue to learn. And, of course, thank you to all of the other applicants for the amazing changes you have made in the lives of others. I hope that I can demonstrate to other young people that no matter your age, gender, race, or background, you CAN make a difference in the world. You CAN change people’s lives. You WILL get addicted to seeing the changes in both yourself and those you serve. I hope my peers will be inspired to make personal relationships in the communities they serve. For me, I know that this is only the beginning. I will continue to push myself and others both civically and academically.
I will continue to serve for the rest of my life, simply because I am a passionate young humanitarian.”