Ninety-five applications were submitted for the 2013 Utah Young Humanitarian Award scholarship and these 11 individuals are the still in the running to receive the $5,000 scholarship. Take a look at what they are doing within their communities that make them prime candidates to be named the 2013 Utah Young Humanitarian.
Haleigh Michel – “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” These words have inspired Bingham High School junior, Haleigh Michel, to live a life dedicated to serving others, as she has been blessed with a rich abundance of shade. Haleigh has maintained a 4.0 grade point average throughout her high school career, and is set to graduate from high school in 2014 at not only the top of her class, but also with an associate’s degree. Besides excelling in her academic endeavors, Haleigh dedicates a large amount of her time to serving others. She has served as the president of the Bingham High School Interact Club, where she has teamed with Rotary International to help within her local community, and also within the Hopi Indian Community in Arizona. Locally, Haleigh, along with her fellow Interact Club members, have served at nursing homes, labeled dictionaries for third graders in Utah, and sold concessions at the West Jordan Rodeo to raise money for hearing aids. In March of 2013, Haleigh led a group of 25 people on a service trip to Arizona. While there, they provided the Hopi Indian Community with additional heat sources to warm their homes, community water, and an Easter egg hunt for the children. As a result of her outstanding work, she has inspired additional youth to get involved in service, and even start an Interact Service Club at Timpview High School. In 2012, Haleigh traveled to Kajuki, Kenya with the Youthlinc Kenya Team, where she taught lessons at multiple schools, built tables and chairs for a dining hall, dug a trench to carry water to a school, and created a lasting bond and love with the people of Kajuki. In preparation for her service trip to Kenya, Haleigh completed 100+ hours of local service. She chose to complete majority of her service hours working closely with the kids at the Heartland Elementary Boys’ and Girls’ Club. Haleigh’s desire to help others has rubbed off on those around her, and proves that one person has the ability to change the world.
Megan Dolle– Megan is currently 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 developed deep relationships with the people she served, transforming her perspective on service. She will be visiting Yanamono again in 2013 with Youthlinc as a Cultural Committee Mentor. Megan has also served with the Real Life in 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.
Sena Belgard – 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 as a program director for the Social Justice Gardens, a service-learning scholar and a member of the scholar’s leadership team. Sena’s service goals are to impact her community by serving 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.
Madison Palmer– Madi is a junior at Cottonwood High and a member of the varsity swim and water polo teams. She looks forward to going to college in California to study film and eventually make documentaries. This past year she has been able to take part in the creation of a program called Backyard Broadcast which is bringing awareness to the issue of child sex trafficking in America. Madi runs a chapter of the program in her school and community. She also works with law enforcement in efforts to get training on the issue, and legislators to get laws passed to eradicate the issue in America. Madi is also the Salt Lake County Youth Government historian, and works with the group doing service throughout the county.
Alexis Jessop– Alexis is currently a junior in The Honors College at The University of Utah, majoring in psychology and minoring in nutrition. At the U, she has been involved with the LEAP program, a program to help freshmen students transition to college life, as both a student and a Peer Advisor and she will be a Presidential Ambassador for the 2013-2014 academic year. Since coming to the University of Utah, Alexis has become involved with The Bennion Center. She has become a part of the Service Learning Scholar Program, Americorps Program, and America Reads Program, tutoring children on their reading abilities. She has worked with underrepresented populations and refugees through Hser Ner Moo, Neighborhood House, and Washington Elementary. Alexis’ love and passion for service started when she was young. She first became involved in service activities in her community and church as a young adult. Throughout high school, Alexis was a leader and art director for the local Girl Scout Troop as well as being involved with the Boys and Girls Club and North Ogden Youth City Council. She thrives on serving in her community and feels a deep passion for making a difference in any way she can. Alexis looks forward to the future. Her goal is to help children and women who are in abusive situations better their lives as a psychologist.
Ruth Arevalo – Throughout Ruth’s life she has had an insatiable wanderlust and passion to not just learn about but to truly know other cultures and the communities of people of the world. Despite an evolving home and family life, she has persevered in her studies and 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, ambitions and involvement 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, working with the 4th Street Clinic, and working extensively in 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.
Taylor Johns – Taylor is a freshman at the University of Utah where she is studying International Studies and Gender Studies. Taylor has always been service minded but has become enthusiastic about service this year as she has started to serve with the Salt Lake City refugee population. This is where she has found true joy and inspiration. Taylor has been involved with the Hser Ner Moo refugee after school program as a tutor for elementary school aged children, along with working with the refugees at the International Rescue Committee. She has also become motivated by human trafficking issues related to her work with the refugee population. She recently led an open community dialogue on campus to bring awareness to trafficking as not only a worldly problem, but a local problem as well. This love for people and the world community has inspired her love of service and even her college degree selection which she hopes leads her to work with women and children. Taylor is also obtaining a yoga teaching certificate with which she plans to use yoga to empower women who have been oppressed, trafficked, or are struggling with life’s hardships. Taylor wants to use her passion to help others empower themselves, thus creating a domino effect of positive impact that all begins with love.
Alyssa Clark – Serving has always been Alyssa’s passion. Locally, she has served extensively at Shriner’s Hospital for Children, where she helps conduct recreation activities for patients and their family members. In 2012, she served as a counselor in training at Camp Hobe, a camp for cancer patients, and has continued her service during the year through fundraising. She will be returning as a counselor in training this summer. Most recently she has enjoyed connecting with the international community through Real Life Salt Lake City, a mentoring program for refugee teens. She is looking forward to an international trip through Youthlinc to Vietnam this summer. As part of her preparation for that trip, she has organized projects at three different schools to sew school bags and has organized medical and school supplies drives through clubs at her school. Alyssa is a senior at Brighton High School where she serves as a co-president of Interact and as a class representative in the National Honors Society and FCCLA. Through her service, Alyssa has come to the conclusion that she is here to do more than simply exist and she strives to make her life meaningful through helping others.
Kyle Niedrich – Kyle is a junior at Utah State University. He served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints from 2007-2009. He is currently studying Human Movement Science and has attained a minor in Chemistry and Business Management. Kyle’s favorite quote is from Mark Twain who once said, “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” Kyle feel that being a humanitarian has been a huge part of his life and education. Almost every week since he has been at USU, Kyle has coached Special Olympics. He started the celiac disease club (called Aggies Against the Grain) and the Optometry club (called USU Opto Club), both of which are heavily involved in service. Kyle traveled to Peru to work at a children’s after school program where he was also able help at an eye glass clinic. He started the annual USU Zombie Chase for Charity 5K Run which raises money to buy wheelchairs in Mexico for those that can’t afford to buy one. Kyle serves on the College of Education Student Council as the Service Vice President and is currently working on creating a service link on the college’s web page to make it easier for students to find service opportunities, especially related to their field of study.
Jessie DuPre – 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. Jessie loves yoga, dancing, traveling, and going on adventures with her friends and family.
Andrew Gee – Andrew Stimpson Gee was born and raised in South Salt Lake Utah, where at an early age he was exposed to and learned to love people from many different cultures. By the time he was a teenager many refugees from other countries had been brought to his community in the center of the city. When the Karen refugees began coming he built many strong and lasting relationships with them and served often in their community, teaching English and helping in other community events. Andrew served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Arequipa, Peru and further
learned to love and serve people from another culture. Upon his return from Peru he again became
actively involved in the Karen refugee community. He organized Karen language and English classes,
parent meetings, helped tutor, and much more in the Karen community. He continues his work in the
refugee community despite going to school full-time at Brigham Young University in Provo where he is studying Public Health and Asian Studies.