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High school volleyball: Inaugural Deseret News all-state Humanitarian of the Year award winners

Milford’s Emily Carter is very active in her community and as part of the Milford City Youth Coalition she got to meet Sen. Mitt Romney.
Milford High School

For decades, the Deseret News has highlighted the outstanding accomplishments of high school athletes in Utah throughout the sports season, culminating with the announcement of all-state teams.

This year, the Deseret News is expanding its postseason awards to highlight the incredible accomplishments of student-athletes off the field with the inaugural Humanitarian of the Year awards.

The award highlights outstanding student-athlete citizens who go above and beyond every day to make a difference in the school and their community through a variety of different means.

Coaches in each classification were asked to nominate players from their team, and then the nominees were voted on by the state’s coaches.

Here’s a look at the award winners in each of the five classifications.


Pleasant Grove’s Avery Fowler, right, passes out donuts as part of the Hope Squad at Pleasant Grove High School.
Pleasant Grove High School

6A Humanitarian of the Year

Avery Fowler, Pleasant Grove

Avery Fowler was a key member of Pleasant Grove’s 6A runner-up finish in volleyball, but it’s her contributions to her entire school community that will likely have the more long-lasting impact.

The senior has been involved with Pleasant Grove’s Hope Squad each of her years in high school and has taken on an even bigger leadership role this year in spreading kindness throughout the school, according to her coach, Kim Hawkey.

“Avery is a great example of taking time to get to know others and has been a friend to everyone she meets. She has a glowing personality that has spread so much positivity on the court with her teammates but also with her classmates, school and community,” said Hawkey.

Asked what motivates her to be of service in her community, Fowler said:

“I feel like I have been very fortunate to be able to grow up in such a good community and family. I have had many role models growing up who have shown me kindness and selflessness so they have helped me want to do the same! I know of what an impact one person can make. From a simple, smile or hello you can change someone’s day or even life.”

6A runner-up: Clara Baker, American Fork


5A Humanitarian of the Year

Jasmine Sisar, Stansbury

Despite being relatively new to her community, Stansbury’s Jasmine Sisar has made a big impact at her school since transferring over from Cyprus High School last school year.

Sisar has been involved in Stansbury’s Hope Squad as she tries to build an all-inclusive school culture within her student body.

“She moved to our school her junior year and has impacted not only our team, but our entire school community with her positive and helpful attitude,” said Stansbury coach Bailey Moss.

Outside of the school, Sisar is very active in raising money for families less fortunate in Samoa.

Ask what motivates her to be of service in her community, Sisar said:

“My motivation for being a great citizen and a positive role model in my community is seeing happiness in others. When I give to others brings me joy to see them happy and I want to lift one burden off their shoulders. Whether it be little or big acts of kindness, it still matters. This is what motivates me to become better every day and to strive to help out as much as I can.”

5A runner-up: Ashlyn Reeder, Box Elder


4A Humanitarian of the Year

Malynn Ewer, Ridgeline

Ridgeline coach Jaicee Roden said that senior Malynn Ewer is a positive influence on everyone she comes in contact with, but this year truly went above and beyond what anyone could’ve expected.

When her freshman teammate Adee Swanton was diagnosed with leukemia at the start of the season, it was Ewer who immediately started thinking of ways to help her “buddy.”

Roden said Ewer went above and beyond in helping organize a Gold Game in which the team helped raise $38,000, much of it coming from Ewer being assertive and approaching local businesses.

She helped turn the team cheer into a new cheer, the “Swan Strong.”

Ewer also serves at the local homeless shelter, working on projects to clean up the community, compiling packaged meals for those in need and volunteering with the Special Forces’ Nothing but Nets program.

“Malynn can do it all, and do it all happily,” said Roden.

Ask what motivates her to be of service in her community, Ewer said:

“I don’t believe that there is any certain motivation other than, I want to be the kind of person that others are comfortable coming to if they are in need of help. I have always loved serving people to see the smiles on their faces. People will always remember what you did and how you made them feel. You never know someone else’s situation, so why not be a kind influence on their life.”

4A runner-up: Julia Jacobsen, Desert Hills


3A Humanitarian of the Year

Sofia Fouad, Judge Memorial

Whether she’s donating her time to the National Charity League chapter in Utah or through various clubs at Judge Memorial High School, Sofia Fouad is making a big difference in all of the communities she touches.

This summer alone she volunteered over 75 hours at The Children’s Center in Salt Lake City as dedicates time to kids with special mental head needs. She’s also been involved with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, which has inspired her to pursue a career in child advocacy.

Fouad is also passionate about women’s rights, and helped start a club at Judge called the Female Alliance which is an open forum for all students who want to have a safe space to discuss gender equality.

Through the National Charity League, Fouad has donated her time to the Neighborhood House, an organization that provides preschool, youth programs and adult care throughout the Salt Lake Valley.

Ask what motivates her to be of service in her community, Fouad said:

“What motivates me in almost everything I do is the possibility to make a positive impact on a child in my community. I prioritize mental health in my day-to-day life, but what often gets forgotten is the mental well-being of the youngest members in our society. I work the most with children (ages 1-6) who have unstable home lives and/or severe mental health issues; if I can be the one consistent support system in their life, if they can count on seeing me just two or three times a week, if I can be a safe space for even just one child, then my job is fulfilled.”

3A runner-up: Kinslee Drake, Union


2A Humanitarian of the Year

The second oldest of seven children, service has been a part of Mary DeGraffenried’s daily life — the importance of which she learned at an early age.

When she was younger, DeGraffenried’s family invited a widowed neighbor with no family who was battling breast cancer to come live with them. She ended up sharing a room with DeGraffenried, who saw the day-to-day importance of service to those in need. Walking, showering, going to the bathroom were all things Elaine need help with toward the end of her life, and DeGraffenried played a big role in fulfilling those needs.

“The last time I spoke with her, I remember I hugged her and she told me that she was beyond grateful for my kindness to her and that she loved me. She died soon after, but that friendship has always stuck with me. I would have never been able to experience this true and loving friendship if I had not reached out to her and been willing to serve her,” said DeGraffenried.

Recently, DeGraffenried helped a special needs friend at Millard enjoy a night at Eccles Theatre in Salt Lake City to see her favorite show Frozen. DeGraffenried helped raise all the money necessary for her friend Cassidy to enjoy a memorable night by reaching out to those in the community for donations.

Ask what motivates her to be of service in her community, DeGraffenried said:

“You never know how much of an impact you can have on others and how they will impact your life unless you reach out to them. By doing service for others, friends are made, smiles are shared, and hopefully, someone’s day is made better. I have seen the impact this has had on my life and by continuing to do things for others I hope to be the best person I can be.”

2A runner-up: Brooklyn Butler, North Sevier


1A Humanitarian of the Year

Milford’s Emily Carter loved playing volleyball for the Tigers this year, but her coach Kennedy Netto said she was just as dedicated to the important extracurricular activities she was involved in, if not more.

“She is pretty great,” said Netto.

Some of the programs she’s involved with are the Milford City Youth Coalition, HOSA and Student Body Council Social Executive.

The Milford City Youth Coalition is a program that goes around to all the schools in the school district discussing suicide prevention and helping to teach students important coping schools.

“Emily is a leader figure in this group being the youth suicide prevention specialist and does a great job involving all of the students at MHS and community members in their program,” said Netto.

Ask what motivates her to be of service in her community, Carter said:

“I’ve always had a passion for being involved and being able to help others so that has been my main motivation for being a great citizen. In times where I have struggled with my mental health, I’ve turned to community work to give me a sense of purpose and self worth. Not only does working in my community help my mental health, I get to have so much fun while doing it. I always need to stay busy so when I’m not playing sports, being involved in my community takes up all my free time. I love being a positive role model in my community because I love the idea that I get to inspire those around me, especially children.”

1A runner-up: Hailee Eyre, Panguitch