Starting this summer, in partnership with the Anchorage School District, we reached out to you, the Anchorage community, to nominate students bettering our community. There were over 75 nominations that came in! We would like to shine a spotlight on these unbelievable students with a showcase and awards event; The Youth Summit Awards.
While there are many events and awards that focus on academics or athletics, this one focuses on good deeds, kindness, community involvement, friendship in the classroom or just kids doing something awesome in their neighborhood, church or school that makes our area a better place.
See photos of our 2019 event on our Facebook page.
After moving to Alaska in the summer of 2018, Solveig had already made her mark, opening her arms to new experiences and serving as a catalyst to build connections within her community. It is no accident that her name means “Way of the sun” in Norwegian. Regardless of the activity, she will bring her smile, her heart and her contagious enthusiasm, resulting in greater participation from others who also want to enjoy the positive experience that she creates. She has motivated her peers to try new activities alongside her, and has encouraged new friendships. Shortly after the November 30th Earthquake, she worked with both her school and her community, helping fellow students with memorizing emergency contact information and cleaning up residential units in senior living apartment buildings. She is a student leader, a faithful friend, a Girl Scout, and a loyal team member.
Paxtynn started helping others when she began volunteering alongside her mother and continues to do so today, saying it “makes her heart feel happy," and she wants "other people’s heart to feel happy too.” She has collected money with Fill the Boot for MDA for five years, has passed out candy at the Providence Cancer Center for Halloween, has been a part of Ring the Bell for the Salvation Army around Thanksgiving, and donates her clothing and toys to those in need. She inspires others to help in her community as well, including encouraging her friends and cousins to volunteer with her at several events. During the summer, Paxtynn helped to hide more than 100 painted rocks to brighten people’s days as a part of the Kindness Rocks movement.
When you meet Natalie, you see a young lady who loves life and learning. A silent leader who loves to serve and help the underdog out, Natalie’s joy for learning extends to her classmates as she encourages them to excel. Active in her church and school, she led singing and games for a Vacation Bible School in Roatan, Honduras, this past summer. Through this mission trip, she experienced what giving to others in need means, and has requested not presents for her birthday this year, but instead donations for the children’s home in Roatan instead. Natalie is eager to participate in her community, her school, her church, and across the world. If there is a challenge, Natalie is up for it.
Nevaeh’s compassion for others is what defines her as a person. She is a leader among her peers, a role model to others and is polite and respectful to all. Nevaeh credits her cousin Carina as her inspiration to reach out and help others as often as she can. Last school year, Nevaeh was elected by her peers to represent her class on student council, and she makes sure everyone has a friend, including new students. She believes in no one being left behind or left out. Her determination and can-do, never-give-up attitude is easy to see, and an inspiration to all who know her.
Arabella is generous and thoughtful by nature. She thinks about how to make situations better, and does what she can to make a difference for anyone she encounters. She has been participating in community service events for several years, and loves engaging with the children at Salvation Army’s McKinnell House, and all those involved with Beans Cafe’s Empty Bowl Project. The reigning 2019 Sunburst Beauty Pageant Queen, Arabella wants everyone to be happy and encourages others to join her in opportunities that arise in her community. Her inspiration is simple: a single smile can generate a thousand more if it continues to be shared with others.
Taimane has a humble and giving personality, and shares her heart with her family, friends, classmates and community. She is a natural-born leader, inspiring her peers to join in to whatever projects she is doing. Taimane participates in the annual Help Us Give School Supplies, Thanksgiving Blessing and Neighborhood Gift programs, assisting her community. She has been volunteering from a very young age, and never hesitates to step in and help out.
McKayla is an inspiration to others through her care and compassion for the environment. She is extremely energetic and eager to learn, and shares her love with every person and every thing. MaKayla will take the time and energy to clean up places that most people walk through without a second glance, such as parking lots at concerts and other large events. Her efforts have brought people together to help make her community a brighter, cleaner place. MaKayla has an infectious smile, is adventurous and loves being outdoors.
Cenna, who likes to be called CC, is intuitive, adaptable, compassionate and empathetic. She has faced challenges and experiences in her young life and has come through as an empowered advocate. She uses her voice and actions to stand up against injustice, attending National Crimes Victims Rights Week, tying a ribbon around a tree standing against child abuse and participates in the annual Choose Respect March, which stands against sexual assault and domestic violence. CC believes that people, especially children, need to be heard when they share someone is hurting. She continues to be positive and uplifting, and leads by example, showing how to follow the rules and always be kind.
Reagan wears her heart on her sleeve. She is actively involved in many community service projects, and doesn’t just donate her time, but also her heart. She takes the time to gather information about current events and shares that knowledge with her peers. In the fall of 2019, Reagan has volunteered more than 30 hours of her free time, and has no intention of stopping there. She's passionate about giving back and will share her love for it with anyone willing to listen. Her most recent passion project is she intends to use her Dollar Dog Platform with Credit Union 1 to set up a shop with all proceeds to benefit the AWAIC shelter. Bringing the well-known phrase to life, she works to be the change see wishes to see in the world.
Lincoln is well-respected among his peers, is trustworth, friendly and helpful to all. He is an ambassador to new students at his school, he is quick to make them feel welcome, including offering to provide tours and help them get settled. When Lincoln sees a peer who may be struggling or needs a friend, he jumps in with both feet and helps them in whatever way they need. He volunteers his time outside of the classroom as well, raising funds for children with leukemia, participating in clothing drives and a bake sale for the local animal shelter, and even picks up trash in his neighborhood.
Jamay is a vocal supporter for doing what is right and defending students who have been bullied. Her peers have recognized her maturity and empathy, electing her to represent them on student council. She demonstrates concern for people and the environment. She has donated her hair for kids undergoing chemo, helps in class and at home, and increases awareness about the environment.
In October 2018, Peyton accepted a challenge from a friend’s Colorado-based nonprofit, Sparkling Kindness, to collect stuffed animals for donations to their local police department. Peyton collected hundreds of stuffed animals and delivered them to APD. Her giving nature started at a very young age, and she has given her time and efforts to many through serving pancakes with Waffles and Whatnot to the kids in children’s hospitals on Christmas morning and packaging cracker and sandwiches to deliver to those in need. A positive leader in the classroom, Peyton has talked about her service to the community in class and lets others know how they can help and that their help makes a difference.
Ciara has had her share of challenges in life, but she does not lose sight of what she wants or who she wants to be. She has compassion for others and helps out with the Salvation Army after-school program, displaying seemingly endless patience for the young children of which she has been given charge. In school, her unwavering moral character offers a role model for other students to follow. “Ciara is an inspiration to me,” her former teacher said. “To watch her grow throughout the years, and to retain the kindness, honesty and compassion that seem to be the core values that she holds dear; this renews my hope in humanity to know that there are people like Ciara among us.”
Maia is a student who loves to learn and she has a unique ability to share that knowledge with others in a non-intimidating way. As a member of the Carnegie Hall Honors Junior Orchestra and the First Violinist in the Anchorage Youth Symphony, Maia gained confidence while studying math with her 5th and 6th grade teacher. As she grew more and more confident in the subject, she noticed other students struggling just as she had done and became a tutor at her former elementary school. She has a way of phrasing ideas, concepts, and strategies so that others can understand. She helps others to feel positively about themselves -- to see the good in themselves and their own abilities.
Helping out in her church, school, and community comes with added challenges for Hanna since being diagnosed with a brain tumor in December 2018. While treatment takes its toll, Hanna does not let it get her down and in the way of living her life and helping to improve others’. She stays late after school to help with student government, plans fundraisers for the freshmen class, helps kids in her neighborhood, and dreams of opening a homeless shelter in town, even creating a business plan and looking into funding to see her idea come to life. Her career plan is to go into the military and either become an officer or join the CIA or FBI to help people --all while someone runs the shelter she worked hard to create.
Through witty humor and personal strength, Garrett turns adversity into an opportunity to help others. When diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2018, he was chosen as the Honored Hero for Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation-Alaska and reached out to the community to fundraise for Crohn’s research. Garrett has been raising money and volunteering in the community since he was about 3 years old. After losing his sister, he started raising money for his new organization “For the Love of Lauren.” He has installed a Little Free Library in his yard, sold countless cups of pink lemonade for his organization and given back to Hope Community Resources - Walk for Hope and The Alaska Zoo, to name just a few of his many efforts. The impact he has left on so many lives is indescribable.
Brenna is not only an excellent student, but she has dedicated herself to enriching the lives of the children and the community around her. She is truly special for her leadership, compassion and selflessness in helping others. Brenna was a member of the National Junior Honor Society, and was involved in the school ambassador program for Begich Middle School. She is also a competitive dancer and volunteers and teaches dance workshops in the community. She worked with special needs students at Begich Middle School to develop and teach dance classes, where they learned social skills as well as dance moves. She then helped put on a dance for all middle school special needs students in the Anchorage school district. Brenna inspires others through the art of dancing and making sure everyone feels included.
Saige is working towards receiving her Girl Scout Silver Award this year. She loves being active with younger scouts and showing them all the great things Girl Scouts can do. This year, she will be working with a local Brownie Girl Scout troup from her former elementary school, lending a helping hand where it is needed. She is dedicated to her academics and is passionate about music. Saige aspires to attend the Juilliard School of Music to pursue her desire to sing opera on a big stage, earn a degree in musical theater and maybe even teach music some day. She has sung in the Anchorage Honor Choir for the past two years, and sings every Sunday with her church choir. Whether it’s with her sports or church activities, you will always find Saige smiling and enjoying helping the younger kids.
Ashley is a well-rounded, kindhearted amazing human who is the epitome of a role model. After being named the 2014 Children’s Miracle Network Champion for Alaska, she realized she has a voice to reach people and help them. Following her passion, she started the Ashley Perry Animal Shelter Reading Program. This reading program welcomes children into participating animal shelters to walk up to a cage and read aloud to a dog, cat or even a hamster. This provides positive experiences for both the children and animals, as well as working to improve reading comprehension. There are 10 shelters across the state participating, along with 15 in the Lower 48 and three in Canada. Understanding that kids wouldn't always tell someone that they are hungry or in need, Ashley decided that life is hard enough for kids without worrying about hunger and simple things. She created the Blessing Boxes program in schools across Anchorage, providing non-perishable food, hygiene products, gloves, hats and more to those who need them.
Alaina has had a three year commitment to our Alaskan deployed troops. Each year she has grown her projects to better reflect how important it is to her to put a smile on soldiers faces who are far from home. This year her project started by selling 800 boxes of Girl Scout cookies for the military. From there she learned that the Alaska National Guard has 85 members deployed to Kosovo, and started "Operation Sweet Support." She has worked tirelessly to collect donations to fill 85 large flat rate boxes so each soldier can receive their own goody box. She included cookies, baby wipes, Alaska magazines, personal toiletries, non-perishable foods, toys,cards made by the Boys & Girls Club and a personal letter thanking them for their service. Alaina’s dedication goes far beyond the ordinary. She wants to make a difference in the lives of others.
Sycely has a heart for serving her community and is a strong mentor for her peers. As the current Miss Anchorage's Outstanding Teen, she has created a platform called SMILE, which stands for Serving, Mentoring, Inspiring, Leading and Encouraging. She believes it is our duty to serve, whether that means volunteering, raising money for charity, giving someone a compliment or simply holding the door for a stranger. While she was Miss Alaska Junior High, Sycely implemented a school wide anti-bullying campaign that involved a coloring contest, speaking in the majority of classrooms and advocating for those who have been bullied. Sycely inspires others in every aspect of her life. She embodies what it means to give back, and encourages others to do the same.
Aloura sticks up for the underdog and has created a campaign at her school to spread kindness, joy and positivity. She has high morals and values, and is an advocate to fight bullying, making sure her peers are not picked on by others. Outside of school, Aloura enjoys playing the cello, camping and four-wheeling, as well as volunteering any time she has to events near and dear to her heart. She has spent the past five years volunteering for the Alaska Miss Amazing Pageant, and the Relay for Life.
Aunika is always willing to try new things and give back to those in need. When a friend from Southern California mentioned a program they had participated in, Aunika was inspired to start her own take on it. She created #HashtagLunchbagANC at the age of 14 and has encouraged many community members to join her each month. They have donated more than 11,300 brown bag lunches to those in need, making 11,300 members of the Anchorage community feel empowered and cared for. Aunika is focused and driven, and when she sets her mind on something, she goes at it 100%. A Spirit of Youth Award winner, she enjoys bringing the community together to raise others up and empower as many people as possible.
A very gifted young man, Will began playing piano at nursing homes, giving 10% of his income to church and humanitarian organizations. He began to merge his love of science with a desire to help others - after achieving great results at the AK Science and Engineering Fair (ASEF), he wanted to share his enthusiasm for science with other middle and high school students, encouraging them to get involved in STEM activities and ASEF. He has effectively joined his love of microbiology with a commitment to public service in his development of a synthetic honey antibiotic salve as a real-world solution to the problem of bacterial infections in rural villages. Will ultimately hopes to work in cutting-edge microbiology research to help address some of the most pressing health problems, including antibiotic resistant infectious organisms.
Dakoma is always the first to step up and help out, no matter the job. She is constantly volunteering at events, including helping with the monthly birthday party at the Salvation Army McKinnel house. She is currently the first Alaska State Fair Teen and is working with the Healthy Voices Healthy Choices Coalition, as well as the America Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Dakoma says, “I love seeing the smiles on the faces of those I help. I continue to help others because it brings me joy, and makes my heart happy knowing that I may have changed someone’s life. Life’s greatest blessings are being able to help those in need.”
Brandon's leadership skills are second-to-none. His drive to succeed and do good things around the community is characteristically unmatched. He truly cares about other people. Brandon is the type of student who leads by example - both in work ethic and kindness - in the classroom, on the basketball court and in the community. He works hard to be inclusive and supportive of all those he comes in contact with. For the last four years Brandon has volunteered to come back to Hanshew Middle School and help coach their basketball teams, helping youth grow and building good character through interactions in sports.
Bryson understands the importance of setting a good example, of being a role model to his sisters and is dependable to help where it's needed. He holds a strong faith and, through his church youth group, he has committed to several church community service functions. Recently, Bryson gave his business pitch to teachers to help bring e-sports gaming to all high schools. The idea is to allow non-athletic students a way to be involved in school activities, but most importantly, will help bring revenue and scholarship opportunities. He says his inspiration for helping in his community is his way of giving thanks.
Hendrik is a great and dependable mentor to his friends and even to his elders. He is very dependable and continuously helping out in his community. In the past year, Hendrik has participated in the Thanksgiving Project with St. Patrick’s Church, helping families shop for food for their Thanksgiving meals; walked house-to-house to collect cans of food for the Food Bank of Alaska; helped families shop for back to school supplies with the Back to School Supply Project through the Salvation Army; taken part in the Salvation Army’s Gifts for Tots Project; and was an integral part of the Community Culture Awareness Event at the park for Pacific Island Festival Flag Day.
At the age of 14, Alana received a partial bike scholarship from Lael Wilcox and, with some fundraising on the side, was able to bike from Cantwell to Coldfoot back to Anchorage. On this trip she found an aspiration for people who show others the true power of cycling. In 2017, she participated in the Girls Riding Into Tomorrow (G.R.I.T.) program, which focuses on teaching 7th grade girls about bike maintenance, leadership skills and how they can help in the Anchorage community. Since participating in the program, Alana has gone back and help each year while also partnering with Bike Anchorage on events and projects and helping build and maintain bike trails with Singletrack Advocates. While not on her bike, Alana has been involved in student government and school activities, as well as volunteering with community non-profits.
Rivers is not only a top student at Service but she is someone who brings up everyone around her. She was chosen as the 2018 Alaska National Representative for FBI Teen Leadership Academy in Quantico, Virginia, and is completing the 20th session of the FBI’s Youth Leadership Program. Rivers’ main impact at Service, aside from her demeanor, is her leadership in Partner's Club, working with students with disabilities, leading Special Olympics and working on all-school inclusion for all students. Not only has she taken on a leadership role organizing the Partner’s Club program this year, she is also the lead for a pilot program infusing technology into the curriculum for how to work with all students. Rivers also volunteers at her church and participates in Anchorage’s City Wide Clean Up each May.
Hailey is a one-of-a-kind leader. She works hard to make sure that those around her stay content and is determined to complete goals, as well as make new ones. She has been a part of Student Government for the past six years and the reason she has continued to serve her community is simply because she enjoys it. She inspires others by acknowledging the fact that although she’s held many leadership positions, that leadership is action and not a position. Hailey is a student that would enact that change for the better of her environment.
Kiara’s life changed forever when her younger brother passed away. As she grew older, she wanted to turn her pain into a purpose. She won the National Lemonade Day Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2016, and is the lead youth volunteer for the Alaska Chapter of Tears Foundation. Kiara works very hard to achieve her goals - she works a part-time job, owns a horse ( which she paid for), competes with her horse, fundraises for her community and still makes academics a priority. Kiara is always giving and always looking for ways to give more; she won’t take no for an answer when it comes to helping others and would give her paycheck to help.
Cynthia has found that her purpose in life is helping others and trying to make a positive impact in peoples’ lives. She was diagnosed with cancer a year ago, and even though she has struggled with fatigue and treatment, she has still kept a loving helpful attitude towards others. She helps in the community by neighborhood trash clean ups, makes meals for elderly or sick people and dog walks for the elderly. She helps everyone she comes across because, in her own words: “Seeing someone in need or hurting breaks my heart because I feel that no one deserves to be hurt and everyone should get the help they need no matter their gender, race or disability.” Cynthia has faced many challenges over the past year and still continues to find the strength to make others days shine a little brighter.
After experiencing a weight loss disorder and learning first-hand how difficult and prevalent mental illness can be, Jessica chose to proactively address and advocate for increased awareness of mental illness. She is a Young Influencer for Anchorage Community Mental Health Services in their two-year national project to increase mental health awareness. She is also a part of the Youth Alliance for a Healthier Alaska who works to advise community health initiatives and to better incorporate youth into their projects. Jessica is also spearheading her own Community Action Project through the creation of a digital library using mental health struggle stories collected from various community partners and her school. Her motto is: "mental illness does not define us, we define our mental illness."
We will honor 36 awesome Anchorage students total, ranging from elementary, middle and high school — including private, charter and home school! We will honor these students with a red-carpet style ceremony. Each honor recipient will receive an award with his/her name engraved on the front.
The event will take place on Wednesday, November 6, 2019 at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and will be split in two parts:
NOMINEE & HONOREE RECEPTION (for students and family members)
5:30 PM, Lucy Cuddy Hall:
Reception to include kid-friendly food and beverages & activities from our sponsors.
We will ask you to please RSVP. Tickets available here.
AWARDS CEREMONY (open to public)
7:00 PM, Wendy Williamson Auditorium:
A short walk from the Lucy Cuddy Hall for our honoree ceremony.
7:00 pm - Welcome
7:10 pm - Magic show by Magician Eric Gilliam
7:30 pm - Awards presentation begins
8:30 pm - Event ends
This is a free event, however the venue does have a capacity. Tickets are available at the link below.
This event is a red-carpet-style event that will be fun for the whole family. Dress to impress!
There are several parking lots around the Lucy Cuddy Hall at UAA. We recommend using the West Parking Lot that is on the corner of Lake Otis and Providence Drive. See directions below.