LOGAN – Logan High School senior Jisung Lee was recently recognized for her service to the community. The 18-year-old was one of two honorees from the state of Utah in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards and she’ll receive a $2,500 scholarship, an engraved silver medallion, and an invitation to the program’s virtual national recognition events.
According to the program’s website, Lee formed Utah Teen Refugee Education and Tutoring, also known as UTREAT, that is helping teen refugees in Utah feel welcomed, adjust to their new surroundings, excel in the classroom, and learn about educational opportunities beyond high school. She first conceived of the idea shortly after moving to Utah. She had previously attended middle school in France and encountered many classmates from northern Africa, helping her to appreciate the value of cultural diversity and the importance of acceptance and kindness.
But when she moved to Logan, she found that there was very little diversity, and that most of the teen refugees here were seen as outsiders.
“Knowing these students’ potential, I wanted to give back the kindness I had received in France,” said Jisung in a statement, “and empower them to pursue their dreams.”
So, in mid-2019, Jisung launched UTREAT to “lessen the educational disparities that youth refugees face in their lives.” To get help, she reached out to local refugee organizations and recruited students and adults from several communities. Then she built a website (u-treat.weebly.com) and began organizing monthly book drives and weekly tutoring sessions for teen refugees.
The COVID-19 pandemic did not slow Lee down. She has organized her group to deliver books in sanitized bags to more than 20 refugee households, created tutoring videos on core subjects for every grade level, and worked on a blog to help teen refugees understand the college application process and scholarship opportunities. Jisung’s organization now has chapters in Logan, Midvale and Torrey, and is working with 20 high school students, 15 adult volunteers and more than 10 educational programs and nonprofit organizations to accomplish its mission.
Created in 1995 by Prudential and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards honor middle level and high school students for outstanding service to others at the local, state and national level.
Thus far, it has recognized more than 140,000 young people who’ve made a difference – and inspired countless others to consider how they might contribute to their communities.