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Draper Journal

Alta High graduate wins national title of Youth of the Year

Aug 28, 2018 03:21PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Alta High graduate Nate Brown recently was honored as the National Youth of the Year. (Photo courtesy of the National Exchange Club)

By Julie Slama|[email protected]


Perhaps the word may come to mind when one hears the resume of recent Alta High 4.0 GPA graduate Nate Brown, who, in July, added National Youth of the Year to his list of accomplishments. 

Brown, who was a National Merit Scholar and National Honor Society member, enrolled in 15 AP classes during his four years in high school, including seven his senior year. He also was named Alta’s social studies Sterling Scholar and participated in the school’s Step2theU program. 

He also has earned his Eagle as a Boy Scout, competed at nationals in fencing and been named to the USA Fencing All-Academic Team, earned his AutoCAD certification, participated on his school’s Academic Decathlon and Model United Nations teams and is involved in his church, including leading a community blood drive. 

Brown also added first-time activities this past year such as participating in his school’s Madrigals and being the Tin Man in the school play “Wizard of Oz,” which he was nominated at the state level for best supporting actor. Later during his senior year, he played the lead role as Lord Macduff in “Macbeth.” 

“It can be hard to juggle it all, but I looked at how much I can handle and organized my homework and activities,” he said. “I live so I don’t have any regrets. If there is something I’m slightly interested in, I went for it, figuring the worst they could say is no.”

Now, along with Sandy’s and Rocky Mountain District’s Youth of the Year, his parents, Holly and Layne, can add the National Youth of the Year plaque to their “Nate the Great shrine” in their living room.

Aside from a bit of embarrassment, Brown is appreciative. 

“The Exchange Club an awesome organization to be involved in,” he said. “They combat child abuse, which is something nobody wants to talk about much.”

Locally, since 1980, Sandy Exchange Club has been involved with youth activities, community service such as establishing Sandy Pride Day, and working toward the prevention of child abuse, the National Exchange Club’s primary project. They also have been active in the community, distributing 6,000 flags at Sandy’s 4th of July celebration, assisting at the Ronald McDonald House, ringing bells for Salvation Army, creating personal hygiene and activity kits which were distributed for people in need and other service work. 

Brown, who said he was asleep when he received a phone call from the National Exchange Club headquarters, remembered hearing something about “Congratulations…national convention in Reno.” 

“I tossed back the covers and wondered if I heard it right or if I was crazy. I called them back and still, I wasn’t clicking it was for real. I am very grateful for their support,” he said.

The support comes in terms of helping him with upcoming college tuition when Brown returns from a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints two-year mission. He plans to study aerospace engineering and eventually, head to law school to be a patent lawyer. 

Brown received $200 initially as a Youth of the Month representing Alta High, followed by a $300 award for being named Sandy Youth of the Year. As the regional winner, he received $1,000, and as the country’s best, $10,000, half of which is applied directly to the college of his choice for his tuition. 

“I’m surprised I’m the one to get the award. Last year’s winner was from Utah, too, and had done a lot, including publishing papers at the University of Utah,” he said. 

Last year, Vismaya Kharkar, of Salt Lake City, won the national title. 

Sandy Exchange Club Chair of Youth Awards Connie Carter said she, too, was surprised two consecutive national winners were from Utah, but with Nate’s accomplishments, she knew he would be in the running for the prestigious award. 

“I read his application essay on how he strengthens America through socially responsible communities, and it was very beautifully written,” she said. “You could feel he was talking from his heart about strengthening his community. Nate’s academics, his involvement, being an Eagle Scout and helping his community, all are very impressive. He is humble, confident, well-accomplished and well-spoken young man.”

Carter said the applicants are reviewed and assigned points for their involvement in academics, activities, community service, essay and other parts of the application. 

Locally, Carter said the club honors students from each of the area high schools before deciding on Sandy’s top two Youth of the Year. In addition to Brown, Jordan High’s Sierra Anderson was this year's Youth of the Year for the Exchange Club of Sandy. 

In addition to these two, Alta High’s McKenzie Gutierrez and Jordan High’s Peter Ingman were honored as monthly winners as well as Hillcrest High’s Boston Iacobazzi and Kiersten Thompson. 

Valley High’s Seth Johnson and recent graduate Nina Peterson are this year's ACE (Accepting the Challenge of Excellence) award winners. These two were selected by the school’s principal and counselors. The award recognizes students who have made a dramatic change in their attitude and performance, Carter said.