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Protecting the Bill of Rights in Utah since 1958

Meet the 2013 Youth Activist Scholarship Recipients

02 September 2013 Published in Youth Activist Scholarship
The ACLU of Utah's Youth Activist Scholarship Program is generously funded by the 
Semnani Family Foundation

Utah High School Seniors Honored For Activism

ACLU of Utah Announces 2013 Youth Activist Scholarship Recipients

We are proud to announce the amazing winners of our 2013 Youth Activist Scholarship Awards. A selection committee composed of community leaders and educators reviewed qualifying candidates from across the state. Our winners were selected based on the students’ dedication to civil liberties, the challenges they have overcome, the leadership they display, and their academic excellence. Each winner receives $1,000 towards their first year of college and were honored at the 2013 Bill of Rights Breakfast Celebration on May 17.

Sheila

Sheila Lazcano
Kearns High School, Kearns

“I want to be the constant reminder that barriers exist, but barriers are meant to be broken. Because education has been a big part of my life, I work for my right and the right of other underrepresented students to pursue their educational dreams. Education is something that no one can take from you.”

Sheila has worked tirelessly to expand the education opportunities to minorities, especially those who are undocumented, in the United States. As a student mentor for the FACE Movement, a pioneering program to assist students of color begun at the University of Utah, Sheila works to empower minority youth to pursue higher education. She also works with the Salt Lake City based Educate Team of Mestizo Arts and Activism to advocate for equal access to higher education for all. Sheila has shown a tremendous amount of courage in her fight to expand higher education opportunities to underrepresented students in Utah. She plans to continue her work with the Mestizo Arts and Activism organization and the FACE Movement when she attends the University of Utah.

Leisl

Liesl Darger
Herrman High School, Herriman“All Americans are born with certain unalienable rights. I am committed to making a difference and defining our liberties as Americans. I am committed to equality and fighting for the rights of all.”

Liesl has stood up for religious freedom and equality since she was a young teenager. Growing up in an Independent Fundamentalist Mormon polygamous family, Liesl has at many times been marginalized and bullied for her unconventional family’s religion and lifestyle. Amazingly, Liesl has overcome these challenges and used her experiences to stand up for the rights of all regardless of religious or cultural backgrounds. She has made huge efforts to get her message out, appearing with her family on many television programs and media interviews, as well as participating on a panel discussion, organized by the Utah Attorney Generals Office, where she spoke about the effect that the criminalization of polygamy has had on plural families. In college, Liesl plans to continue her activism and pursue her goal of decriminalizing polygamy for consenting adults.

Eliza

Eliza Grainger
West High School, Salt Lake City

“My goal has been to be a resource to the students I teach as well as those who surround me everyday. This doesn’t mean simply handing out condoms at school. Adolescence can be daunting, and we seek to inform as many people as we can about healthy behaviors and relationships."

Eliza has been extremely active in her community as an advocate for sex education in Utah. As a volunteer for Planned Parenthood, she travels to schools, youth groups and public events, to talk about healthy relationships, contraception and the risks of sexual activity. In the wake of 2012 House Bill 363, Health Education Amendments, which would have required abstinence-only sex education in the state of Utah, she joined in the fight to keep the detrimental bill from being signed into law. Eliza participated in lobbying at the State Capitol, signed petitions, e-mailed state legislators and joined a rally in an effort to convince Gary Herbert to veto HB 363. Because of hard work from people like Eliza, the governor vetoed HB 363 in March of 2012. Eliza continues to volunteer with Planned Parenthood, furthering her involvement to become Teen Council Liaison to the advocacy tier of the organization.