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The City Journals

South Salt Lake graduating senior does it all

Jun 28, 2018 03:44PM ● By Jessica Ivins

Aaron Dustin, South Salt Lake’s Youth city mayor, senior graduation picture. (Courtesy of Busath Photo)

By Jessica Ivins | [email protected]

Aaron Dustin, a graduating senior from Olympus High, served the South Salt Lake community on the South Salt Lake Youth City Council. He served in many other ways and was South Salt Lake’s Youth of the Year for 2017. 

“My parents love to sign me up for things,” Dustin said. However, he decided to serve. Dustin served on the South Salt Lake Youth City Council. 

“Aaron cares about his community and works toward improving it in any way he can,” said Edward Lopez, Family Liaison coordinator of Promise South Salt Lake. “He wants to instill the importance of service into his peers and is a great role model for our city's youth.” 

Serving with Lopez was an opportunity for him to experience government on a city level and help plan activities. Dustin was just in seventh grade when he found out about the City Youth Council. He applied as soon as he could and has enjoyed the increase in opportunities and talents that have come his way. 

 He has also served on the Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams’ Commission on Youth.

“Volunteering is a great way to learn what my interests are,” Dustin said. He has experienced government on a county and city level, participated in alliances to promote beliefs, presented at youth summits, traveled to present a clean water proposal in North Carolina, served on the Anti-Drug Coalitions of America and lobbied representatives to support prevention programs.

“I learned about government and found my way about serving in my community,” said Dustin. His favorite activity he helped plan last year was the Halloween Spooktakular. This a family-friendly event that featured a haunted house, live entertainment, games, bingo and food.

“It was a great activity to see the community come to and a great one to serve,” Dustin said.

The youth city council is where Dustin served as mayor. The Spooktakular was just one of many fun activities he helped plan with the youth city council. Dustin has volunteered at the annual Christmas Angel Tree project and participated in Biztown activities with Woodrow Wilson Elementary School students. He enjoyed planning a Night out against Crime, Breakfast with Santa, Daddy/Daughter Valentine’s Dance, Easter Egg Hunt, Huck Finn Days at Fitts Park, Fourth of July parade activities, Senior Ball and the Mother & Sons Sports Palooza.

Serving on the youth city council in 2016 led to the President’s Volunteer Service Award. This is given to volunteers who have achieved a required number of hours of service hours over a 12-month period.

Through the youth city council, council members get a chance to speak at city council meetings, shadow city employees, sit on advisory boards and work together. Dustin served on the committee for four years, first, as a council member and then as the mayor. 

South Salt Lake Youth City Council is an award-winning council. In 2010, 2011 and 2013 it earned the first-place Award of Excellence for 20 members or fewer from the Association of Youth Councils. In 2014, the council competed with larger-sized councils and took third place for the Award of Excellence. The council’s motto is “Youth on the Move.”

Dustin received a $2,500 scholarship from the youth city council to a university of his choice. He has served as mayor on the council for the 2017–2018 year. The University of Utah will be seeing him in 2021 after he serves a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the Philippines. Dustin may be interested in government or politics to serve the community in the future. Presently, however, he is undecided on a major. 

As part of working as a member of McAdam’s Commission, he met elected officials and learned more about their roles and responsibilities. He gained leadership experience through organizing service projects in the community. Dustin delivered food to the homeless, attended Legislative Day at Salt Lake Capitol, attended an anti-tobacco rally with Utah Tobacco Free Alliance and attended a youth council meeting with guest speakers, Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera and Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill. 

Dustin has had support from his parents. “They push me to do a lot, he said.” He is also grateful to Jennifer Allred, Adina Hamik and Lopez. 

Through the summer, Dustin will work at J-dawgs to have some fun working with his cousins and save some money. He will continue his internship at the University of Utah School of Medicine. However, this doesn’t mean that is all he is doing. He will squeeze in observing a judge for a day in the supreme court and see how the justice system works. He hopes to find time for his hobbies of playing basketball and mountain biking. 

Dustin recommends checking out or the to search for events to volunteer. Lopez is right: He continues to instill the importance of service in his peers.