Salt Lake Community College student Israel Santana recently received the 2015 Youthlinc Utah Young Humanitarian Award and a $5,000 scholarship through the sponsoring nonprofit Youthlinc, the largest service-based scholarship program in the state.
The award recognizes Santana’s involvement for the past six years with the Mestizo Arts & Activism Collective (MAA), helping to empower youth on Salt Lake City’s west side to become community leaders. In high school he used poetry and photography at MAA to share his experiences growing up a west sider, where drug and gang activity in his community could have steered Santana from his academic path. “If it hadn’t been for the Mestizo Arts and Activism Collective, I would have either been in prison or dead,” he said. As a college student he has been mentoring younger students about the value of education. Santana is quoted on the Youthlinc website saying, “My leadership in Salt Lake City has focused on empowering young people of color to pursue a higher education, become politically aware, and maintain a sense of pride in their cultures, all while pursuing positive social change.”
Santana’s plan is to finish at SLCC this fall and then transfer to the University of Utah next spring to pursue a bachelor's degree in sociology toward one day becoming a professor in the subject. One of the scholarship contest judges, Peter Ingle, Westminster College Dean of the School of Education, said, “Israel is going to change the world.” Youthlinc Local Service Director Jerika Mays said the award is important because it “celebrates young people who excel at giving back in their community in hopes of inspiring more youth to volunteer.” The annual scholarship offerings of $5,000, $3,000 (runner up), $1,000 (three awards) and $500 (five awards), are funded by the George S. & Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, the Robert D. Kent Jr. Trust and by Shaun Michel.
For more information about Youthlinc or the award and scholarships, visit www.youthlinc.org.