Amy Perez-Chavez is a first-generation Mexican-American college student. She fell in love with service in her senior year of high school when she served as president of HOSA and has continued working with underserved communities since. To Amy, volunteering is about giving back to a community that once helped her family when they had no obligation to do so. Her family wasn’t always as financially fortunate as they are now, and Amy has no doubt that due to the kindness of others, her family is now in a much better place. She also hopes that by helping similar families, their children will be able to see that receiving a higher education isn’t just for those outside of her community. Through hard work, commitment, and passion, Amy believes you can do anything that you set your mind to. Another passion of Amy’s is helping students at the University of Utah in similar situations as herself. She started the Minorities in Medicine Association in order to help form a community of like-minded individuals, who can aid each other in their journey in the medical field.
Nathan Anderson is studying Interdisciplinary Studies at Southern Utah University with emphasis in Psychology, Sociology, and International Relations. He hopes to continue his education with a Masters in International Relations with an emphasis on Humanitarian Action. His service journey really began when he became involved in Youthlinc’s Service Year Program. Nathan quickly realized how important and powerful service work can be to the communities he serves as well as himself. Nathan is particularly interested in microfinance funding for refugee families here in Utah. His time spent serving others here in Utah has shown him what it meant to be a citizen within his own community. It has had a profound impact on how he views humanity, and how he wants to treat others. It has entirely shifted his perspective on what it means to be empathetic and inclusive, and what true all-encompassing love can be.
Emma Robison’s journey of lifelong service began shortly after her grandma passed away. She was 9 years old and was lost with grief. After dwelling in a dark place, she realized life is more than mourning. By turning her focus outward, service saved her soul. Her SWAT Team, Service Without a Trace, was formed. It sparked a fire inside of her and became a light that helps guide others out of darkness. She is currently mentoring 8 girls and has SWAT teams on 7 college campuses! Emma loves dancing, oatmeal, dogs, pilates, Taylor Swift, and serving others selflessly. Currently, a Pre Business major at Brigham Young University, Emma performs with the Adaptive Show Choir, helping adults with special needs. She is also a member of the Women in Entrepreneurship, Phi Eta Sigma, the Collegiate Honor Society, and is the author of “Oats”.
Zoie Frisby is currently studying Biochemistry at the University of Utah. When she was in middle school, Zoie started to get involved in Service. Very quickly she learned that completing service made her happier and more productive. As it was also just a good thing to do, she got even more involved in high school. She joined a service club called Interact and eventually became the secretary and later, the president. Now that Zoie is in college she has become more consistent with her community, volunteering and loving to spend a couple of hours a week helping out where she can.
Abbey Thomas is a first-year student at the University of Utah majoring in Anthropology with a minor in History, and she hopes to apply to medical school someday. She started to get into volunteering all the way back in middle school and has served at a few different places over the years. However, the one she has been serving the longest, and the one that is probably closest to her heart, is Primary Children’s Hospital. When she was younger she was a frequent patient there due to some health issues, so she knows what it’s like to spend a long time in treatment. This is what led her to start sewing medical play dolls many years ago so that she can help patients get the same comfort that she did. Abbey is very grateful to have the ability to serve the same population she was once a part of, even if it’s as simple as making a handmade doll.
High School Finalists
Audrey Su is a junior at Skyline High School. She is the founder and president of Title I Strings, a 501(c)3-certified nonprofit that provides free string music education to underserved children. She built six free after-school violin/cello programs throughout Utah, which provide group lessons to 70 children every week, taught by 20+ high school musician volunteers. She raised over $15,000 to purchase instruments and led 22 performances at Utah Title I schools, bringing first-time exposure of classical music to thousands of children. Inspired by her volunteering at Maliheh Free Clinic, she founded Para Tu Salud, a Spanish health magazine that provides accessible health education materials to free clinics in Utah. She also works with the Community Faces of Utah to promote awareness of health issues prominent in the underserved community, including giving presentations on youth suicide prevention. Through her community service, Audrey hopes to bring greater equity to music and health.
Emily Rojo Mendoza is a first-generation student born to immigrant parents from Mexico. She has always loved to help people from a young age. Her parents enlisted the idea of, if you have the capability of helping those around you, do what you can to help make someone’s day better. She has kept this in mind going into high school, where she learned how she can not only serve but improve her community. Emily has learned more about herself, by learning how she can help others.
Megan Tandar is a current senior at West High School in the IB Program. As a musician herself, she’s passionate about spreading the gift of music to her community. She’s the co-founder and Youth Program Director of Peace Through Music Internationals 1st U.S. Chapter, a foundation that provides free music education to global and local refugee youth. Through fundraising efforts, she’s raised approximately $60,000 to support the cause locally. She leads a team of 6 youth volunteers, spending each week teaching harmonica and ukulele to elementary schools around Utah. She plans to attend either Duke University or Dartmouth College in the fall and hopes to continue her community service journey there.
Jayashabari is a senior at Hillcrest High School and incoming freshman at MIT. She is deeply interested in the sciences and mathematics but is equally invested in the humanities and writing. Indeed, her journey towards service started with her contest essays on the history of science and slowly grew to advocating education nationally through letters published in the New York Times and an ambassadorship from the National Academy of Engineering. She has had a wide range of volunteering experience, from a “teen explainer” position at the Natural History Museum of Utah to the founder of the “GENE-ius” club teaching bioengineering to students at the local Midvale Middle School to attending an “EngineerGirl” leadership trip to Washington DC to learn more about equity in STEM. Outside of service and academics, Jayashabari enjoys writing mildly humorous science-themed limericks, falling down Wikipedia rabbit holes, and re-reading Campbell’s Biology, a book of which she never grows tired.
Lydia is a compassionate and self-driven individual who has used her experience as a new student to empower others. After her dad died, Lydia became an example of how to turn adversity into something positive. She also became an advocate for kindness and service in her community. Lydia has a powerful voice for making schools more inclusive and welcoming. She has shown and promoted positivity in her school by serving as the president of the Kindness Club for the past three years. She was recently recognized by the Pleasant Grove Choose Kindness Program for her dedication. During her time as president, Lydia has organized and hosted new student lunches, sock drives for kids in her community, board game drives for refugees, a school supply drive for the Navajo Nations, and initiated a “game-on” program in her school’s library for kids that needed a place to go during lunch. Lydia has also served as the vice president of the National Honors Society and as a judge on the Pleasant Grove Youth Court. Through her service, Lydia has grown to love her community and has become a beacon of inspiration for individuals facing adversity in their own life. After graduating from Pleasant Grove High, Lydia plans to get her degree in psychology at Brigham Young University.