The Youthlinc Young Humanitarian Award has been recognizing service-minded Utah high school juniors and seniors and undergraduates students since 2005. Promoting humanitarianism among youth is the reason behind this annual tribute, made possible by the generous donation of the George S. Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, the Robert D. Kent Jr Trust, and the Michel Foundation. 

As most everyone will recognize this year has been monumental to date.  With COVID-19 we were brought to a sudden halt, not only our nation but the entire world. In an effort to protect ourselves we were thrust into sudden quiet and stillness. We, more than ever, realized the importance of connection and the need to take care of one another. We witnessed that our under-served populations and those lacking resources are the most vulnerable among us. Information we already knew; however, highlighted due to the pandemic. In a time when individuals had every right to be scared we did not see the fear overcome them. Instead we saw resilience grow within the human spirit, we witnessed heroic acts of kindness and service both large and small. It’s humanity’s ability to serve in our darkest and most fearful moments that’s inspiring. 

During all of this uncertainty, it has been a gift to be involved with the Young Humanitarian Award. The countless hours of dedicated service that these young individuals offered the world left me feeling inspired. To see youth focused on helping others in all aspects of life served as a beacon of light and hope amidst the current darkness and uncertainty. Our youth are well on their way to becoming lifelong humanitarians. Their desire to serve and make the world a better place for all of humanity is evident in each one of our applicants. 

This year we received a substantial amount of applications from students across Utah! These applications have gone through a minimum of two rounds of judging to get to the final interview round taking place on Saturday, May 16th. 

In 2020, we will be offering one $5,000 scholarship, one $3,000 scholarship, and three $1,000 scholarships to five service minded high school students and one $5,000 scholarship, one $3,000 scholarship, and three $1,000 scholarships to five college students for a grand total of $22,000 in scholarships! Any student committed to attending the University of Utah will receive additional scholarship money from the Union Scholarship Fund. 

We wish our finalists the best of luck, and can’t wait for you to meet them on Saturday, May 16th at our Virtual Annual Benefit.

High School Finalists

2020 Young Humanitarian Award Finalist

Taylor Fang,

Senior at Logan High School

Taylor is passionate about sharing technology with girls of diverse backgrounds. She is the founder of Girls Explore Tech (GET), a 7-week series of free, hands-on workshops for local middle-schoolers. She has also independently directed two summer camps with Junior Achievement of Utah over 16 hours. Her efforts over the past three years have directly impacted over 134 Utah girls, and she has dedicated over 300 hours to her initiatives. Taylor’s goal is to encourage girls to use coding for creative expression and humanitarian impact. She believes in Nelson Mandela’s quote that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

2020 Young Humanitarian Award Finalist

Armani McFarland,

Junior at Weber High School

Armani enjoys spending time with her family and friends and loves to help people by volunteering and hosting drives. She started volunteering and collecting food and other much-needed items for children in 2012 at the age of 8. It started with a desire to make sure that no child in our community went to bed hungry. After seeing success with her first food drive, she was determined that there was more she could do to help. Over the past 8 years, Armani has collected and donated over 7,500 new backpacks and truckloads of school supplies.

In January 2016 Armani turned her drives, fundraising and volunteering into One Can Make a Change, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Additionally she is very involved with HOBY, which is a youth leadership program. Armani is passionate about volunteering and helping others and implements giving back into all she does.

2020 Young Humanitarian Award Finalist

Laila Batar,

Senior at Academy for Math, Engineering, and Science

Laila Batar, is currently a senior at the Academy for Math, Engineering and Science. She’s planning on attending the University of Utah in the fall, majoring in Biology. Her interest in service was  sparked because of her parents. Laila believes, “ They taught us about giving to the community at a young age, they were definitely the best example to learn from. They were diligent, hard-working, and cared for others.” She loves to volunteer because of them, and dedicates her free time to help the communities around her.

2020 Young Humanitarian Award Finalist

Joseph Huff,

Senior at Lumen Scholar Institute

Joseph Huff learned to serve because of his father who is a stroke survivor. His right hand no longer works properly yet he has always made the best of his situation and is ready to help anyone in need. Joseph was volunteering at the county fair when his 4-H mentor offered to 3D print a prosthetic for a boy without a hand. He learned that children grow quickly and often have to do without prosthesis because it is too expensive. Joseph realized he could 3D print hands for children who didn’t have them. He has printed over 25 hands and counting. This experience made him wonder if he could use 3D printing to help his dad. Through 4-H he was able to tour Shriners Children’s Hospital prosthesis lab and learn of tools that can help his dad. He is currently working on 3D printing a device to help his father regain some use of his weak hand.  He is grateful that serving others has helped him reach out to numerous people, including his dad.

2020 Young Humanitarian Award Finalist

Diya Rao,

Junior at West High School

 Diya Rao is currently a junior at West High School. She moved to Salt Lake City from India five years ago. She loves being a part of her tennis and ultimate frisbee teams, she’s passionate about playing the piano, and enjoys participating in Model United Nations and Debate competitions. As a volunteer ambassador with the Utah-based Mundi Project since 2016, she teaches music to people of all ages, performs in senior centers, and helps with organizing local events. She enjoys volunteering as it helps her to be socially useful while sharing her talents and learning from others.

College Finalists

2020 Young Humanitarian Award Finalist

Karissa Wang,

Senior at the University of Utah

Karissa became immersed in the social health program Connect2Health as a freshman in college. Through this experience, she came to see that people are not so different – everyone is trying to find their place in the world and make the most of what they have. She became Associate Director of Connect2Health in 2018 to expand the program’s reach and help more people across the Salt Lake Valley find resources to fulfill their social needs. In this position, Karissa worked to help other students fall in love with and be transformed by service as well. She has since volunteered at the Junior League Women Helping Women Boutique and as a student leader at the University of Utah Bennion Center. These experiences have shaped and cemented her desire to become a physician so that she may continue serving others and give back to the community as a lifelong humanitarian.

2020 Young Humanitarian Award Finalist

Hay Soe,

Sophomore at the University of Utah

Hay Soe is a Karen refugee from Myanmar. He and his family immigrated to the United States in 2007 and have been greatly blessed with friends who held their hands to help them navigate life in their new home. He is now a junior at the University of Utah pursuing degrees in Philosophy and Entrepreneurship. Hay Soe believes, “My life’s great when it is given meaning and I find that meaning in serving my fellow human beings. When I serve those who are in need,  I get to learn so much. I want to give hope to those who are in need like I have been given hope by those who shared their love and joy with me.” Hay Soe continues to be involved with and volunteers for Youthlinc and Bridging Borders.

2020 Young Humanitarian Award Finalist

Fiston Mwesige,

Junior at the University of Utah

Fiston is originally from the Republic Democratic of Congo. He moved to Utah 5 years ago as a refugee with his family. Something that he appreciates about Utah is the supportive culture however the cold and snow he could do without. His experiences volunteering guided him in creating Umoja Generation, an organization that focuses on social issues and refugee youth education. He is currently the founder and director. Fiston is a junior at University of Utah and majoring in International Study. He speaks seven different languages and making a positive impact on people’s life is his passion. In his free time he likes playing basketball, going to gym, and volunteering.

2020 Young Humanitarian Award Finalist

Samuel Adams,

Junior at the University of Utah

Sam Adams is a junior at the University of Utah where he is in the honors program, studying Biomedical engineering. 

Sam is a founding member and the President of Yellow For Life, a non-profit student organization dedicated to suicide prevention and awareness. Yellow For Life offers uplifting and inclusive social events, holds monthly service initiatives, provides suicide prevention training, and is responsible for providing and promoting “kindness cards” on campus. As a founding member, Sam was instrumental in establishing the organization on campus, planning and leading group meetings and events, and he also became certified in QPR (Question-Persuade-Refer) suicide prevention training. 

Sam’s compassion and desire to serve others is simply part of who he is. He has always been a helper. He is perceptive and attentive to the needs of others and he finds creative ways to incorporate service into his daily life. 

One of Sam’s favorite things about helping others is the positive connection it creates between people. Because of this, no act of service is too big or too small. Whether it is a long-term commitment to helping senior citizens navigate modern technology, or one-time tutoring to help a stressed-out student, Sam is simply motivated by a genuine desire to help others and make life a little bit easier. 


Sam’s desire to find creative solutions to meet the needs of others extends to his educational and professional endeavors in the field of biomedical engineering. He is currently participating in research to improve non-invasive cancer therapies, and hopes to engage in human-focused engineering research in his professional life.

2020 Young Humanitarian Award Finalist

Loveleen Ghuman,

Senior at the University of Utah

Loveleen was born in New York as a first-generation, Punjabi-American, she is currently studying neuroscience and philosophy at the University of Utah. Service is integral to Loveleen’s identity as it ties closely to her civic responsibility to help others. Her commitment to seva (service) began in the community kitchen of her local Sikh temple in elementary school and expanded as she engaged in an AmeriCorps term and meaningful service trips globally in college. Aware of the complex identities she holds as a Punjabaan and American, Loveleen considers herself a global citizen committed to the cause of humanitarianism, which to her begins locally through community-engaged collaboration. She strongly believes that being a humanitarian is a lifelong calling available to everyone, one idea she advocates for through her non-profit organization, International Health Scholars. With particular interests in social equity and increasing healthcare access to the underserved, Loveleen will be pursuing a career in medicine and public health through an MD-MPH program after her undergraduate studies.

Meet the 2020 Young Humanitarian Finalists
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