Midvale Teen Aims to Give Back as Youth Council Mayor
Sep 29, 2016 05:19PM
By Julie Slama
Hillcrest High School senior Melissa Regalado has been named one of Sandy City Youth Council’s mayors to serve this school year. Pictured with her are Sandy residents and youth mayors Shelby Hewitt and Boyd Christiansen being sworn in Judge Paul Farr. (Marsha Millet/Sandy City)
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
Two summers ago, Hillcrest High School junior Melissa Regalado remembers learning about teenagers who traveled to other countries to help build schools or teach children, provide villages with clean water or give some form of humanitarian service to people less fortunate.
“I wanted to be able to serve people, but I couldn’t afford to go to another country,” Melissa said. “Then, I realized there were people in our own community who need help and I could volunteer right here.”
After learning she wasn’t old enough to participate in the Midvale City’s student ambassador program, she turned to Sandy City Youth Council, who welcomed her.
Marsha Millet, who has been the Sandy City Youth Council adviser for 22 years along with Justin Homer, said that their program has welcomed students from Hillcrest, Brighton, Jordan, Alta, Skyline and Waterford as well as home schooled students and Sandy residents attending other schools.
“Melissa is a great kid who is service minded and wanted to be involved,” Millet said.
The youth council, which typically has about 25 high school members, meets weekly to learn about Sandy government, participate in community service projects and have social or educational experiences, such as bringing in speakers.
“We learned about different parts of the city government and how they worked together to serve Sandy City residents as well as volunteered in the community to help people,” Melissa said. “Over Thanksgiving last year, we helped single moms and kids by organizing clothing and doing some crafts with the kids. That was one of my favorite things, helping them out.”
This year, after interviewing with Millet in August, Melissa, now a senior at Hillcrest, was named one of the youth council’s three mayors along with Jordan High’s Boyd Christiansen and home-school student Shelby Hewitt, both of Sandy.
“I was pretty excited. I kept saying ‘thank-you’ so many times. I’m very happy for this opportunity,” she said. “I think as youth mayor, I can develop and refine my leadership skills and to be organized. I’ve learned every minute counts and I need to be productive so there is no time to waste.”
Melissa is involved in several school activities. She has been president, and currently serves as vice president, of Hillcrest’s key club, a group dedicated to community service; she mentors students being on the Peer Leadership Team; is a member of the Link Crew, a group that helps ninth-graders adjust to high school; is a member of the National Honors Society and is a member of the cross country and track teams. She also volunteers three hours each week at Primary Children’s Medical Center and holds a part-time job.
Even with her past experience being a school leader, she already has skills that she’d like to learn and improve as mayor, including organization and communication.
“If we don’t have a plan and we don’t follow it step by step, we could fall behind. I think communication is a big skill so if we learn how to better communicate, we can work out things if a conflict arises. These are skills I could use at school as well as in the future,” she said, adding that she’d like to work as a hospital administrator and maybe sometime, work in the U.S. Congress.
Melissa said in addition to learning about government, being Sandy City Youth Council mayor also will help her personally.
“For me, this will help me with public speaking. As a freshman, I was very shy. I couldn’t even talk to the person next to me. Now even though I’m nervous, I’m proud that I’m able to speak in public and that has given me more confidence,” she said.
After her first meeting with her youth council, the group has brainstormed plans they want to accomplish this year: learning about forensics with the city’s crime lab; visiting the state capitol and the Matheson Courthouse; working with Sandy’s parks and recreation department to plant trees; and helping seniors make gingerbread houses.
After being sworn in as mayor, Melissa wasted no time. She and the youth council climbed aboard a bus and toured Sandy with Sandy City Mayor Tom Dolan, who answered questions and pointed out new developments.
“I’ve learned so much through the youth council and now have been given a chance to be a bigger part of it,” Melissa said. “I’m really excited.”