2019 College Utah Young Humanitarian $5,000 Winner Matthew Spurrier, Junior at the University of…
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 a record number 146 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 22nd at the Volunteers of America Homeless Youthlinc Resource Center. Wish them luck, and come meet our finalists on Saturday, May 20th at our Annual Benefit at the Utah Cultural Celebrations Center!
Alyssa Clark, Junior at Brigham Young University
As a high school senior, Alyssa volunteered at Real Life where she developed meaningful relationships with several refugee teens. She writes, “These relationships transformed me from a volunteer to a friend and humanitarian. All of a sudden my service had nothing to do with fulfilling my required hours, but everything to do with filling my heart.” This experience has a profound impact on Alyssa and fueled her passion to serve the refugee community. Alyssa now organizes community events to let people know how they can help the refugee population while also raising funds for AMAR U.S.’s efforts to rebuild lives in the Middle East. She is also working with SINGA, an international nonprofit organization, to encourage the media to engage in more positive and solutions-oriented conversations about refugees.
Angie Gamarra, Senior at Innovations Early College High School
Born in Peru, Angie has taken advantage of every opportunity to excel academically while also making service a top priority in her life. She serves as a Peer Mentor for Salt Lake Community College’s Una Mano Amigas peer mentoring program where she tutors ESL students, organizes workshops, and provides support for underrepresented students pursing higher education. Angie writes, “My mentees success is my success and their failures are my failures. I seek out ways for them to grow in their scholastic pursuits.” Angie is a recipient of the Washington DC Engineering Fellowship, Outstanding Mentor & Shining Star Award from Una Manos Amigas, and the Outstanding Commitment, Activism and Achievements, to Protect Civil Liberties Award from the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah.
Dakota McEwen, Junior at Utah State University
Dakota has made a lasting impact as the Program Director for the Val R. Christensen Service Center’s Grandfriends program at Utah State University. She designs interactive activities for senior residents in Cache Valley such as creating art, collecting life histories, and sharing live music. Dakota writes, “I’ve seen how simply brightening someone’s day can have a lasting impact.” Dakota invites others to do the same by recruiting and managing more than 100 volunteers as they form intergenerational friendships. Her recommender writes, “To Dakota and her volunteers, the residents are not just people to be served. They are experienced individuals with stories to tell, who love to laugh, and who look forward to socializing.” As a social work major, Dakota plans to advance to graduate school and cultivate her life’s work in promoting macro-level change.
Easton Bowring, Senior at Monticello High School
Easton incorporated his love for art into his service by spending countless hours sharing arts and crafts with special needs peers at Monticello High School. Easton’s service extended outside of the classroom, as he made sure his special needs friends felt welcomed and included. His recommender writes, “Easton would often escort a young man with special needs from class to class during the school day and then welcome the young man to sit with him at basketball games after school. No one assigned Easton to perform this role; he simply saw the need and made an effort to help.” Easton also serves as the Student Body President, National Honor Society President, Interact Club President, and most recently spearheaded a school-wide fundraiser, Project 17 Angels, to support needy families during the holiday season.
Kate Harris, Senior at Highland High School
At the young age of 8, Kate started volunteering with the National Psoriasis Foundation where she discovered her passion for service, which inspired her to get involved with the Salt Lake Peer Court, American Heart Association, and Real Life. As a Real Life volunteer, Kate recognized a large refugee and immigrant population at her own school and took action to secure a $12,500 grant from Valley Behavioral Health while working with school administration to launch a new site at Highland High School. Kate now serves as a Real Life Intern where she encourages volunteers to go outside their comfort zone to connect with others. She writes, “I’ve learned that to become a humanitarian you must immerse yourself in a daunting commitment to look beyond yourself and ultimately recognize that service will give you more than you will ever give back.”
Katherine McCullough, Senior at Davis High School
After being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, Katherine has spent the last 10 years volunteering, fundraising, and advocating for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Katherine writes, “I have served with JDRF to help unify our community in this cause, and to help families living with diabetes know that they aren’t alone in this battle. I offer them inspiration and motivation to keep fighting.” In 2009, Katherine was selected as a Youth Ambassador for the Children’s Congress in Washington, D.C. where she talked with senators and congressmen to share the importance of supporting research to find a cure for type 1 diabetes. At Davis High School, Katherine is a leader in the marching band where she encourages 250 band members to work hard and keep trying so that they can have the confidence that they gave their very best effort.
Liz Cantlebary, Senior at Park City High School
Liz has contributed over 1,000 hours of community service at local organizations including The Peace House, Habitat for Humanity, and others. She is a member of Planned Parenthood’s Teen Council where she provides sex education and is a resource to her peers. Liz has had the opportunity to sit on a variety of panels and talk to students directly about issues surrounding sexual assault, mental health, and drug use. She played a critical role in the success of a World AIDS Day event to raise funds for the Utah AIDS Foundation as well as the Get Yourself Tested campaign to provide information and free STI testing. Liz writes, “Teen Council has ignited a passion inside of me to fight for equality for all people.” Liz will continue her passion for service next year as a Tradition Fellow at Cornell University where she will have the opportunity to collaborate with fellow students on various service projects.
Madeline Rencher, Senior at the University of Utah
Madeline started volunteering with the University of Utah Tanner Dance Program nearly 10 years ago when she would take her younger brother, Samuel, to his special needs dance class each week. She has been a relied-upon volunteer ever since, forming meaningful relationships with individuals with disabilities. Madeline writes, “Because of limited speech and communication skills I am unable to fully understand how my presence has impacted the people I serve. However, when they come running to embrace me, with an enormous grin on their face and light in their eyes, I am filled with joy. The bonds that are made do not require words.” These experiences inspired Madeline to focus her undergraduate theses on the transition to adulthood in adolescents with disabilities. Madeline also mentors first year students at the University of Utah and has held many leadership positions in student government.
Marina McNeill, Senior at the University of Utah
Marina participated in Youthlinc’s first trip to Kajuki, Kenya where she was challenged to become a lifetime humanitarian. After returning home she began volunteering with many organizations including Rotary, American Red Cross, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Angel’s Hands Foundation, and Children and the Earth Foundation. These experiences inspired Marina to create her own service organization, Service Opportunities 101, to promote service opportunities for people of all ages via Facebook posts. Service Opportunities 101 now has over 2,100 members and has engaged hundreds of people in over 140 service projects ranging from donation drives to dressing up as princesses and superheroes to cheer up children facing life-threatening illnesses. Marina writes, “I’ve learned that with the help of others, service can become magical and it is better to involve others than to serve alone.”
Paige Remington, Sophomore at the University of Utah
As a high school student, Paige nonchalantly decided to sign up for the Community Of Caring service-learning class where her eyes were opened to local and international service. Little did she know that she would become hooked on service. Paige organized a field trip for over 100 underprivileged elementary students at Camp Tracy, an outdoor area in Millcreek Canyon. She initiated suicide prevention projects after a fellow student committed suicide. Paige created the “Heroes of Skyline” Instagram page to recognize students who showed kindness or served the Skyline or larger community. Paige now serves as the Social Medial Specialist for the University of Utah’s Bennion Center and is excited to be a student board member next year. Paige writes, “I have come to love helping others and can’t resist my hunger to serve.”
Soe Meh, Senior at Cottonwood High School
Soe Meh moved from a refugee camp in Thailand to the United States at the age of ten. Since then, Soe Meh has been highly involved in Promise South Salt Lake’s afterschool programming. As a student, she has received lots of support from Real Life’s homework help over the past seven years. That experience motivated Soe Meh to give back and tutor young children in her own community. She currently serves on the South Salt Lake Youth City Council (YCC), where she has had the opportunity to volunteer at city events. These programs and many more have helped shape Soe Meh into who she is today – the first generation in her family to attend college. Soe Meh writes, “I am driven to be a great example to children who are from refugee background like me, I want them to know that they can achieve any goal they set their mind to!”