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UHS senior wins service award for work in Ghana

A student who raised money on her own to go to Ghana to work at an orphanage and school is the winner of the third annual Ray Davies Student Service Award.

Natalia Hoyos, a University High School senior, also is trying to start a nonprofit organization (the Web site is www.buildingbrightfuture.org) to raise money for schools in Ghana.

This year, as a member of New Global Citizens, she is raising money for a shelter for abused women in Sierra Leon.

As the winner at Wednesday night’s event, Hoyos received a laptop computer from Pima Federal Credit Union, said event chairwoman Martha G. Taylor.

The award was begun by the Tucson Human Relations Commission to highlight community service by young people, she said.

Hoyos was among 16 seniors from local high schools nominated for the award, which is named after Davies, a retired local teacher known internationally for his unceasing advocacy of civil rights and humanitarian causes.

Taylor said second place went to Rita Oldham, a Mountain High School senior, who is a youth mentor for Youth Empowered for Success. The organization trains high school students to do community service. Oldham received $300.

For third place, there was a tie between Sienna Jeffers, a Sahuaro High School senior, and Brittany Brooke Moreno, a senior at Marana High School.

Jeffers founded the Humanitarian Club at Sahuaro to fight hatred and civil rights abuses around the world. She also created Poetry Jam, where students could voice their opinions about world and local issues.

Moreno is president of Erasing Racism And Sexism Everywhere (E.R.A.S.E.) at Marana High. In addition, she helped create the Marana Youth Leadership Program and a Taste of Marana, which brings different cultures together. Jeffers and Moreno each received $150.

Other nominees were:

• Ashley Gee, Cholla High Magnet School

• Mary Bryant, Sahuarita High School

• Hema Ruiz-Jimenez, Pueblo High Magnet School

• Nicole Marie Smith, Presidio School

• Imelda G. Cortez, Pueblo Magnet High School

• Samuel Barba, Pueblo Magnet High School

• Brittany Leigh Craber, EDGE High School

• Christine Fallon, Tanque Verde High School

• Josue Saldivar, Desert View High School

• Kathy Tran, Ironwood Ridge High School

• Kea Tabisola, Salpointe Catholic High School

• Julie Crusa, St. Augustine Catholic High School

“We were impressed and heartened by all of the applicants’ community service,” Taylor said. “Honestly, to choose one was very difficult.”

She said commission members also were impressed about all the “diverse ways the young people helped the community, the nation and the world. These kids give you faith in the future.”

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