The Youthlinc Utah Young Humanitarian Award recognizes service-minded Utah high school juniors and seniors and undergraduate students with a $5,000 college scholarship and $8,500 in runner-up awards.
Though our society recognizes young people for their accomplishments in sports and academics, this Award celebrates outstanding service among youth. Promoting humanitarianism among youth is the reason behind this annual tribute, sponsored by the George S. & Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation. Youthlinc has organized this annual statewide search since 2005.
This year we received 125 applications from students across Utah! These applications have gone through two rounds of judging to get to the final interview round taking place on Saturday, April 14th at the Volunteers of America Homeless Youthlinc Resource Center. Wish them luck, and come meet our finalists on Saturday, May 12th at our Annual Benefit at the Utah Cultural Celebrations Center!
Zach Burbidge, Freshman at Brigham Young University
Zach spent a significant part of his childhood on the island of Kauai, in Moloaa Bay where he learned to love the outdoors and live off the essentials. As he grew, he spent more time in Utah where he played lacrosse, ran track, and swam. Around age 11, his family made a pivot to their lifestyle starting to save money and instead of going on a classic family vacation to Disneyland. His family tried to make it more meaningful by finding or creating humanitarian aid programs that they could participate in. This small pivot led to a complete 360-degree change to Zach’s lifestyle where he has spent nearly every significant holiday break or summer vacation either over seas or locally in the community designing ways he could help others, who are less fortunate, get ahead in life. To date, he has been blessed to work in every inhabited continent and serve side by side with locals in relief efforts for local disasters and humanitarian aid. The last two years of Zach’s life were spent in Central Mexico serving as a Mormon missionary where he was assigned to work with local government leaders to implement Self Reliance classes into local high schools across the State of Queretaro. Zach’s newest project, in partnership with the Ballard Center in the Marriot School of Business, is focused on improving quality employment for refugees in Salt Lake City; utilizing coding academies tailored to their diverse needs.
Nick Knight, Senior at University of Utah
Nick Knight is a senior at the University of Utah studying Kinesiology with a minor in Geography. Shortly after its establishment, Nick became involved with the Feed U Pantry, an on-campus resource where University of Utah students, staff, and faculty can receive free food assistance in times of financial instability. Under Nick’s leadership as Executive Director, Feed U has grown to impact over 1,400 people and has increased the variety of ways it can serve the community through live cooking demonstrations focused on nutritious, low-cost recipes, and acquisition of perishable food donations. His ambition to improve fitness and nutrition-related health literacy and outcomes of those around him has been and is continuously being fostered through his experiences as a Running Forward site volunteer, resource volunteer for Maliheh Free Clinic patients, health educator for the Utah Center for Community Nutrition, and in biomedical research surrounding diabetes. Nick plans to continue fulfilling his duty to serve others in ways that will improve their quality of life in his future academic and professional pursuits as a physician.
Taylor Ostmark, Sophmore at University of Utah
Taylor Ostmark, is a sophomore at the University of Utah studying Health Communication, Business administration, and Nutrition. She hopes to one day receive a Graduate Degree in Hospital and Business Administration. Her humanitarian experiences have shaped the person that she is and wants to be. She feels she owes a lot of her success to the many organizations that she has had the opportunity to spend time in, and is grateful for those experiences
Sterling Brinkerhoff, Junior at Spanish Fork High School
Sterling Brinkerhoff is a Junior at Spanish Fork High School and currently serves as Mayor Pro Tem on the Spanish Fork Youth City Council, Vice Chair of the Utah PTSA Student Leadership Committee along with many additional clubs and organizations.He can be seen serving weekly in a variety of capacities on a school, community or state level.
Most recently, following a teen suicide in his school, he organized and led service projects building origami flowers with messages of hope for students and staff on Valentines Day.
As part of kindness month, he is now building more than 3600 flowers for students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to help them deal with the crisis they experienced on that very same day.He is working with the father of one of the shooting victims to distribute these flowers from several schools in the Utah County area.
Sterling is learning how important service is for those being helped as well as those doing the helping. He has also learned that simple acts of service can change lives and change the world for better. He is grateful for every service opportunity he is given.
Paige Stodtmeister, Sophomore at Brigham Young University
Paige is passionate about changing the stars for those who are disabled or disadvantaged; she does so by genuinely loving, connecting, and respecting those she is privileged to walk alongside. She began her service as a teenager, creating meaningful programs for disabled students at Spanish Fork High School; her spirit of giving ignited a student body and community into compassionate action. She served a full-time LDS mission to Peru, forming RM’s for Humanity upon her return to raise funds for flood victims. She began work as a life coach for young adults with developmental disabilities, helping them reach their ultimate potential. She serves as a YServe Program Director for Slate Canyon Youth Detention Center, providing impactful volunteer opportunities for BYU students. She also serves as a program director for Kaiizen, a non-profit organization, leading volunteers on humanitarian trips to an orphanage in Mexico. Paige is currently studying nursing at BYU and is always looking for ways to go above and beyond to serve her patients. She believes one person really can make a difference if they see the value and beauty of every soul.
Tiana Smart, Senior at Skyline High School
As a senior at Skyline High School, Tia Smart has had many years to broaden both her understanding of a service-oriented lifestyle and an understanding of how to combine passions with the lifestyle of a humanitarian. Outside of school and her job as a ski instructor at Snowbird, she has dedicated her time to various causes, particularly raising awareness for both food insecurity and human trafficking. As a member of the Souper Bowl of Caring’s National Youth Advisory Board, she was able to take her years of experience as an advocate for victims of poverty and collaborate with like-minded teens. Through this, she was able to significantly raise community and student participation in raising money, food, and awareness for and about food insecurity. Tia has spent time as an advocate against human trafficking mainly as a student leader and station chief of Skyline’s chapter of Backyard Broadcast, a youth-led organization dedicated to spreading awareness and fighting human trafficking, particularly that of children.
Taelor Gass, Senior at Piute High School
Taelor has always been concerned about making the world a better place. She focuses on helping individuals and knows that even small acts of service make big impacts. She has made a habit to notice and do, so whether it’s giving compliments or service, she finds opportunities to brighten lives every day. In addition to many other community contributions, she has educated the public on the risks and solutions of opioid abuse, encouraged community members to properly use helmets, and voluntarily tutored children at the local elementary school, including some students with special needs. One of her most rewarding projects was organizing Piute’s All In Hope Squad for her high school which prevents suicide, improves self-esteem and restores hope one individual at a time. She loves to play the piano, sing, dance, go horseback riding, play sports, go on walks, and watch the sun set. In the future, she plans to continue her quest to make the world a better place and knows her work may never be finished, because she realizes as long as there is suffering, there is something she can do.
Keethu Ramalingam, Senior at American Preparatory Academy
Keethu Ramalingam, is a passionate aspiring computer scientist who hopes to leverage technology to aid those in need. Her service journey begun with volunteering as a tutor for a learning disorder NGO in India, after which she was inspired to develop an app to assist those with dyslexia. She believes that as the world gets more technologically advanced, humanitarianism must also, in order to make the greatest impact possible. In her spare time, she enjoys painting and auctioning pieces for charity, hiking, and running.
Cassandra Ivie, Senior at Copper Hills High School
Cassandra Ivie is a senior at Copper Hills High School in West Jordan. One of her passions growing up has been science and technology. As she became acquainted with youth throughout the state through leadership positions in the 4-H program, she became very aware of the disparity in opportunities to learn engineering and technical skills, especially for minorities, girls, and youth in rural areas. Helping to create equity in opportunities has become her passion. She created a stand-alone engineering curriculum to introduce students to electrical, mechanical, civil, chemical and software engineering. She received a $6500 grant to fund 10 kits which can be checked out through 4H and used by parents, teachers and volunteers throughout the state. She has spent over 2,500 hours teaching engineering concepts over the last 4 years in after-school clubs, classrooms, summer camps, and public events such as Maker Fair, DevFest Family, Kids Code Cone, library and district STEM fests, county fairs, and other locations. Cassandra sees STEM as an enabler, which teaches life skills that can be used in any career choice.
Matthew Spurrier, Sophomore at the University of Utah
For Matthew, service began at a young age playing music for the elderly. It slowly changed into yard work for neighbors, feeding the homeless, and neighborhood food drives through his teen years. In high school, a Youthlinc trip to Cambodia changed his outlook and helped the seed of humanitarism truly begin to bloom as he worked with the Cambodian people to achieve the bare necessities of life. After serving a 2 year mission in Malaysia, Matthew Co-founded MAJI, a nonprofit oranization with the idea that something small can lead to something extraordinary. In just one year, MAJI has started ambassador programs throughout the United States and donated over 1300 hours of service to places such as Primary Children’s Hospital, The Utah Refugee Connection and Granite School District. Matthew’s true passion is helping others plant their seed of service, and helping them bloom into young Humanitarians.