Every year, the frenzy of the legislative session brings with it the excitement of seeing how state government works firsthand. For many high school students, attending Multicultural Youth Leadership Day at the Capitol is marked by the potential their future holds.
“Governor [Gary Herbert]’s speech encouraged me to study hard and taught me how I can stand on my own legs and fight for my future,” Abdul Bari Ayubi, a senior at Cottonwood High School, said.
The day promoted civic engagement among high school students from 13 schools throughout the state. Some students traveled from as far as Logan and Montezuma Creek.
A panel discussion and breakout session brought together political and civic leaders to address issues of access and diversity and how service benefits students as they prepare for adulthood.
During one moving moment, Kyle Ethelbah, the director of the University of Utah’s TRIO programs, shared details of how education saved his life following the separate deaths of his immediate family members. His resilience was a humble reminder of the ways in which students have the power and agency to make positive, lasting change.
In addition to the messages he and others shared, many recognized the important role these speakers have for students looking to serve in similar capacities. For them, representation matters.
“[Our minority youth] are able to hear from community leaders, learn from people of similar backgrounds as themselves and network with students from other schools,” Noelani Ioane, a mathematics teacher from Bingham High School, said.
The day concluded with events in the state Capitol where students had the opportunity to participate in a mock election, tour the exhibitions highlighting the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad and visit with community organizations.
Above image: Sophia DiCaro listens to Kyle Ethelbah speak during Multicultural Youth Leadership Day at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019.