Every year, Youthlinc recognizes and rewards Utah’s most outstanding young service leaders with the state’s largest service scholarship.  The Utah Young Humanitarian Award is a $5,000 college scholarship rewarded to an altruistic young person who strives to serve the local and global community, sponsored by the George S & Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation.
These young humanitarians awe and inspire us, and we want to recognize them for their efforts to change the world for the better. 
2005 Young Humanitarian : Britnie (Anderson) Powell 

Britnie was a junior at the University of Utah when she won the first ever Young Humanitarian Award in 2005.  From raising money for a neighbor with ALS to spearheading efforts to bring a little Kenyan girl to the U.S. for surgery, Britnie had taken a leadership role in an unending list of local and international service projects. She volunteered at Cottonwood Hospital, South Valley Boys and Girls club, and tutored an ESL youngster. She traveled to China, Guatemala, Peru, and Kenya to do humanitarian work. 

Melanie Goates: With an ability to organize and rally others to a cause, Melanie took leadership roles in the National Alliance to End Homelessness, U of U Bennion Center, Timpview High School Mentoring Program, Utah Youth Summit Executive Committee, YES (Youth Engaged in Service). She traveled to Kenya and Mexico to do international service, and  was especially good at organizing reflective activities for young people involved in service.


Melissa Nuntapreda: Assisting the elderly was a joyful, regular activity for Melissa. She volunteered at the South Valley Care Center, and often cleaned their homes, did their laundry and just visit. She also organized Kids Carnivals for Make-A-Wish and exercise programs for Fit Kids. She also volunteered to feed the homeless and with Best Buddies, a club to mentor peers with disabilities.  When she won her scholarship she was Senior Class President at Taylorsville High all while holding down a job to support her single-parent family.

Cassandra Parker, a senior at Cottonwood High, had a five year track record of service. Cassie was active in the National Charity League, Ronald McDonald House, The Sharing Place, Utah Food Bank, The Children’s Home, The Road Home and St. Joseph’s Villa. She founded a Rotary International sponsored Interact service club where they raised money for Tsunami relief, a homeless youth center, and Bishop Hannington’s Home for Destitute Children in Kenya. Cassie also participated in the Youthlinc program to Kenya. 

Spencer Thompson led the efforts of his fraternity to collect coins from fellow college students in order to build a library at a school for the deaf in Kenya. They raised almost $6000 in five days. Spencer also raised money for Tsunami victims and the Utah Food Bank. He was involved in service projects for the Salvation Army and tutored refugee children at the Sorenson Multi-Cultural center. He traveled with Youthlinc to Kenya to do international service.

2006 Young Humanitarian: Don Willie

Don Willie was a Senior at Est High School when he received the title of Utah Young Humanitarian in 2006.  He had coordinated service initiatives for Utah troops overseas, Ute Indian foster children, students with special needs, and infants in Ghana. Don excelled at motivating groups of students to assemble care packages, holiday gift bags, mentor peers with disabilities, and raise funds to feed and clothe the less fortunate here in Utah and half a world away.

Kreig Adair was a Monticello High School senior and committed to his community.  He organized an annual Trick or Treat Food Drive through his 4-H Club for his community’s needy.  He organized every aspect of the campaign, collecting over 11,000 pounds of food—enough to feed over 700 people for a month.  He has also organized community blood drives, clean-up projects, and drug, alcohol and tobacco education programs at the local elementary school. 


Daniel Blake was the organizer behind the largest fund-raiser in Operation Smile history as a freshman at Brigham Young University.  Daniel inspired 1,000 Utah students to raise $200 each—enough to provide a cleft palate operation to a child overseas—and netted over $200,000 for these surgeries. Daniel had been involved in the Operation Smile program since fifth grade, helped organize student associations in 30 schools around the Wasatch Front, and traveled to Jordan to teach hygiene and assist with cleft palate surgeries in 2003.

Ashley Kearl found an unusual way to help Korean orphans by designing men’s ties.  East High senior Ashley Kearl made her interest in fashion design a way to feed and clothe children. Ashley sold her designer ties and enlisted dozens of others in collecting blankets, hygiene and school supplies, books and shoes for a Korean orphanage. She traveled there herself to deliver the items and funds. Ashley has also raised money to provide musical instruments and music camp scholarships to under privileged Salt Lake.


Lily Marsden: Medical care for the homeless and indigent was the focus for University of Utah senior Lily Marsden. Whether she was volunteering at the Maliheh Charity Clinic, the Fourth Street Clinic, or in the Peruvian Amazon at a village clinic, the pre-med student used her skills and actively enlisted her community physicians to the cause. Lily also was the U of U Hunger Banquet Committee Chair and taught basic first aid to Title 1 school children in Salt Lake.

 2007 Young Humanitarian: Chelsea Gould
Chelsea Gould was a senior at Orem High School when she won the 2007 Young Humanitarian Award. She traveled to Nairobi, Kenya in 2005 to help in AIDS clinics and hospitals, teach in orphanages and help with the disabled.   Through Operation Smile, Chelsea traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico to help with medical procedures for facial deformities.  She also worked with children with disabilities through Kids on the Move.

Kimberly Gallegos participated in Alternative Spring Break (ASB) for three years where she volunteered with the Newman Center as a Peer Minister doing community service and  went to New Orleans to help with Hurricane Katrina relief.  Kimberly Gallegos was a senior at the University of Utah when she was a runner up for the award. Kim helped to establish the local chapter of House of Hope, as support place for children while their mothers receive addiction treatment. Kim was a Youthlinc Alum leader for the Kenya program.


Nathan Jarrett was a senior at Lone Peak High School in 2007.  Changing lives one smile at a time was Nathan’s passion.  He accomplished this through Operation Smile.  As the Loan Peak Chapter President (2006-2007), Operation Smile he raised nearly $100,000 and devoted over 500 volunteer hours including a medical mission to Amman Jordan.  Nathan’s leadership included Lone Peak student body officer, Interact officer, Eagle Scout and 4-H youth council.

Peter Reichman: During an LDS mission to the Philippines, Peter developed a strong desire to give back to the people who accepted and treated him as one of their own.  Peter, a senior at BYU when he was a runner up, founded Vaccines for the Philippines which organized over 100 volunteers donating thousands of hours to the medical needs of the poor in the Philippines. In addition to meeting medical needs, Peter’s organization worked on house construction and hospital remodels.


Shonti Breisch: Because of her desire to help children through the grieving process Shonti, a sophomore at Westminster College, volunteered for many years at the Sharing Place and helped to establish the support center Bridges in Tacoma Washington.  Shonti established the 4Kali.org foundation to bring relief to the people of Khoa Lak, Thailand after the December 2004 Tsunami devastation.  Shonti also sponsored Gigi, a two year old, orphaned in the Thailand Tsunami. 

2008 Young Humanitarian: Madison (Baugh) Hale:

As a senior at Viewmont High School, Madison Hale worked to spread small acts of kindness to various communities.  She was the Best Buddies President at her school, President of Youth of Promise in Utah , and was an intern in special education classes and in Peru and the Dominican Republic.  Madison worked tirelessly to make sure that the mission of Best Buddies came to pass at Viewmont High and has really made a difference for many students with significant disabilities.

Candace Hanks participated in service with various communities in Utah.  Whether it is working with children at the Sharing Place, or Ronald McDonalad House, with the elderly at St. Joseph’s Villa, international communities in Zambia or Peru, or her peers as the TickTockers President in the National Charity League, the Olympus High Senior viewed service as a lifestyle. 

 Bryndon Hatch was a University of Utah Senior and Service Learning Scholar. Bryndon assisted an array of communities as the Coordinator of Health and Ability Service Program at the Lowell Bennion Service Center, Advisory Board Member of Best Buddies Utah, Director of the University of Utah Best Buddies Program and Volunteer with Intermountain Homecare Hospice.

Nicole Nguyen was a University of Utah Senior and Service Learning Scholar and was involved in serving those affected by HIV/AIDS.  Starting as a volunteer in the Campus AIDS program, Nicole continued on to be the director and then led a year-long integrated service project with the Utah AIDS Foundation. Nicole took her background knowledge and offered training to rural communities in Kenya. In addition to her work in this area, Nicole also served as the U of U Senior Class President and in the Asian American Student Association at the University of Utah.

Libbi Sorenson, a East High School Senior, incorporated education about organ donation into assemblies in her position as Assembly Chair, worked as a Peer Tutor in her school’s Special Education Program, and she was the President of SPOTS (Students Providing Others True Service).  She was an active member of National Honors Society and Key Club.  Outside of school Libbi volunteers as a mentor in Salt Lake Peer Court and she is preparing for a humanitarian trip to Kenya this summer.

2009 Young Humanitarian: Emily Smoot
Emily Smoot had already worked for ten years with a range of communities providing service and solutions when she won the award in 2009.  She worked with children in Make a Wish Foundation, adults learning ESL at Horizonte, the elderly at Highland Care Center, and her peers through Salt Lake City Peer Court.  She also worked with indigenous populations in Ecuador leading self-sustainability projects and was the Expedition Leader for a group of thirty as they traveled to Peru for a medical mission.  Emily was a senior at the University of Utah and works 30-40 hours each week with ten refugee families through Catholic Community Services. 

Catherine Lake started the charitable organization, Underneath It All.  This organization provides children in the Utah Foster Care System with a week’s worth of new underwear in a colorful knapsack.  Catherine also donated 150 knapsacks to the Utah Foster Care program and she continued the program with aspirations to serve 1,000 children.  Catherine also served as Senior Class Vice President at Juan Diego Catholic High School and was a member of the Human Rights International Club.  She also worked with the Salvation Army and Doctors for Global Health.

By the time Caleb Larkin turned eighteen-years-old, he had already been on two international humanitarian missions.  During his junior year, Caleb worked most weekends to save money in order to travel to Kayathar, India where he taught English to over 100 children for ten weeks.   Just before starting his sophomore year at Northridge High School, Caleb spent two weeks in Ecuador with the Orphanage Support Service Organization.  He also volunteered as a Teacher’s Assistant in the Head Start Program and tutored in Clearfield Elementary School’s After School Program.

Elham Nazzal filled her week with service to the community.  On Mondays and Wednesdays she was an ESL tutor for a Burmese refugee mother of six.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays she worked with the IRC Youth Mentor Program.  On Thursday afternoons Ellie could be found teaching art to fourth graders at Mountain View Elementary School.  In addition to these weekly activities, Ellie also served as an IRC Family Mentor and worked with a refugee family from Nepal.  A sophomore at Salt Lake Community College when she was a runner up, Ellie also traveled on a humanitarian mission to Kenya with Youthlinc and volunteered at the Neighborhood House, U of U Rehab Center, and Muscular Dystrophy Association Summer Camp.

Billy Rutter, a senior at Weber State at the time, had worked with Habitat for Humanity for five years participating in everything from fundraising to construction to volunteer supervision.  He was the Campus Chapter President for Habitat for Humanity International. While at Weber State Billy saw the need for education about homelessness and organized Homeless Awareness Week and Cardboard Camp out which give students the opportunity to understand the issues surrounding homelessness on local, national, and global levels.  He also founded Freedom Riders, a therapeutic program for children with cerebral palsy.

 2010 Young Humanitarian: Kajsa Vlasic

Kajsa Vlasic volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters, ESL tutoring, Girls on the Run (acting as a mentor and coach to at risk teens), and the International Rescue Committee, mentoring refugee families in Salt Lake City. While juggling all these service activities, she was able to graduate with an International Baccalaureate diploma. She also served internationally in Kenya and Costa Rica, with Youthlinc and Amigos respectively. 

Brian Johnson started his humanitarian journey with Boy Scouts. In college he was president of his Rotaract club, leading various local service projects including canned food drives and raising money to provide wheelchairs to needy children around the world. He traveled to Uganda for 3-months to work with local teachers, improving their skills and helping assess village needs.  Brian was focusing on a career in medicine and was attending Southern Utah University when he was a runner up for the award.
Jerika Michel’s humanitarian spirit had already touched lives in Utah, Kenya, Mexico, Venezuela, and Brazil when she was a runner up for the award. Jerika was instrumental in founding the Brighton H.S. Interact Club, belonged to the Salt Lake Rotaract Club, was the Service Coordinator for the Westminster College Institute of Religion, and is a Trustee of the Michel Foundation. Jerika taught English to adult refugees from Burundi with the ESL Center, and tended her ‘Service Garden’ in Sandy, growing produce donated to local food charities.

For 4 years Hanne Paine had dedicated her time to the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center, logging nearly 1500 hours, and becoming their first certified master programmer. Hanne’s principal service goal was to inspire girls of all backgrounds to pursue education in science, technology, engineering and math. Hanne graduated from West H.S with an International Baccalaureate diploma and was a West High Service Learning Scholar. At West, Hanne tutored English Language Learners, assisting in after school events and home visits, and helped establish a comprehensive ELL program.

Ryan Price volunteered at the Therapeutic Preschool at the Salt Lake Children’s Center. When local food banks were low on resources, Ryan started a very successful food drive with donations coming in from all over the valley. Ryan, a Pre-Professional Physics major at the University of Utah, developed a tutoring support program for Math and Science students. He served as the Bennion Center’s Student Program Chair and was responsible for leading U of U students in humanitarian service.

2011 Young Humanitarian: Cara Cerise
Cara Cerise, a sophomore at Westminster College, was dedicated to the equality and inclusion of all people no matter what age, race, social status, religion or sexual orientation.  She served as a camp counselor at Camp Anytown, became president of her high school’s social justice club, BOND (Building One New Dream), and simultaneously founded the Utah chapter of COLAGE: People with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Parents. After high school, Cara lived in Paraguay working with the organization Amor y Esperanza where she worked hands-on with special needs elementary students in the rural villages  She served on the Board of Directors of the Inclusion Center for Community and Justice and was working toward HIV prevention as a Woman’s Health Intern at the Utah Pride Center where she is also a translator.

Andrew Hagedorn directed his passion for service toward the homeless in Salt Lake City.  He has been involved with Youth for Youth where they have been raising money for the Road Home.  He was president of the Youth Government Commission that has partnered with Youth for Youth specifically addressing the problem of teens and young adults that find themselves homeless. Andrew has also has served with the Neighborhood House, Peer Court and The Children’s Center.  He travelled to Mexico on a Youthlinc humanitarian trip in 2010.  

Emily Gillespie was president of the HOPE taskforce for three years where she worked with school social workers and counselors to help at-risk students with depression.  Emily also volunteered at Canary Garden Family Grief Counseling Center helping those coping with the recent loss of a loved one.  As a student at Utah Valley University, she spent the summer of 2008 in Uganda with HELP International.  Nine months into her LDS mission in Chile the big earthquake of February 2010 hit the country and she was able to help in the recovery efforts in Machali.  Since she has been home she has been volunteering with the Service-Learning community at UVU.

Jeffrey Scott, a senior at Judge Memorial Catholic High School, was the founder of the Apache Project, a partnership between the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation and Judge Memorial.  The Apache Project sent over 3.5 tons of school supplies and clothing to the Reservation.  In addition to his dedication to the Apache Project, Jeffrey also worked with the Ulster Peace Project which promotes peace in Northern Ireland by hosting workshops in Salt Lake focused on communication and conflict resolution.  He was Student Body President at Judge Memorial and a member of Rotary Interact Club.
2012 Young Humanitarian: Lisa Moynihan

Lisa, a University of Utah student working on a BA in History and an Honors Certificate, was awarded the $5,000 scholarship for being chosen as Utah’s Young Humanitarian in 2012. Lisa was the Intern for Youthlinc’s Real Life in Salt Lake City program which is a mentoring program for refugees teens. She was also a member of the Youthlinc 2012 Peru Team traveling to Yanamono, Peru. Lisa has been devoted to service from a young age, planning and helping with multiple school service projects in high school including organizing a school wide food drive for the Utah Food Bank in 2008. She has been a College Buddy for the Best Buddies Program which fosters friendships between students and young adults with intellectual disabilities. She also participated as a mentor in the International Rescue Committee’s Youth program for two years. In 2010 she was a member of the Youthlinc Kenya team. In that year she logged over 100 local service hours before her trip to Kiamuri, Kenya.

McKenzie Weeks organized a yearlong project called “Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed Mission”
where the group found ordinary ways to make extraordinary differences in the lives of others. She recognizes that often times some of the most meaningful service opportunities come as people are just going about their daily lives. Serving is a big part of her life and has taught her how to sincerely care about the circumstances of others. She has learned that she can always make a difference in the life of a friend, family member, leader, teacher, acquaintance, and even a stranger.

In 2005 James Baird co-founded Youth Making A Difference (YMAD) and helped take 20 high school students to Northern India to work with four different orphanages. James served as a full time missionary for the LDS Church in Richmond Virginia from 2007-2009. In August 2009 he moved to Kulu India for four months and opened The Home for Peace, YMAD’s first orphanage. While there, he moved seven children into the facility, enrolled them in school, taught English, and helped build a sustainable curriculum for the orphanage. James is still very involved with YMAD and serves as an active member of the board of directors and as Country Director for summer college expeditions.
Whitney Smith has always enjoyed serving others and has found numerous ways to include it in her life. She
raised funds to serve in El Salvador where she promoted healthy living, nutrition, and dance therapy lessons for troubled youth and orphans. This led her to continue her service for the next few years in the Fijian Islands, Russia and Uganda. In her endeavor to fight poverty, she has found opportunities to serve locally. Last year she worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer promoting healthy living to low-income families and currently mentors African women refugees with the Salt Lake City Chapter of the International Refugee Committee. With her desire to continue living altruistically, she has since returned to school for a second bachelors degree to study nursing at the University of Utah. With a background in health, she plans to continue advocating for the less fortunate while finding opportunities to improve health education.

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