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Meet the Youth Action Board

Youth Action Board Bios

Yixiao Burke, President

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I am a student at University of Utah getting my bachelor's degree in Psychology. When I graduate from the U of U, hopefully I will be working with homeless youth age 16-25 either with Salt Lake County Youth Services Center or Volunteers of America. In the future, I am planning on getting my Master in Social Work with a minor in Policy Administration and a minor in Chinese. I have my associate degree in Social Work from Salt Lake Community College.

I lived in the VOA Young Women's Transitional House from February of 2019 to August 2020, and now I have been living on my own for two years now. I am the currently the President of the Youth Action Board for Salt Lake County Youth Services, and the Salt Lake Valley Coalition to End Homelessness Youth Lived Experience Advisor.

I live in Salt Lake City. I like to go hiking, running, going to the gym, spend time and focus on myself, and love to hang out with friends. I am excited to learn more and advocate for youth to get their voice out loud and be proud.



 

Maygan Martinez, Past President

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Between the ages of 12-16 I had experienced the JRC and CR at Youth Services when I was then transitioned to DCFS custody until I aged out at age 18. During which time I experienced homelessness 3 different times reaching out to partners such as the Volunteers of America Youth Resource Center, Salt Lake County Youth Services Milestone Transitional Living Program, and my awesome car.

Within in this it has allowed me the opportunity to have been a member of the Youth Action Board for 4 years and was the Milestone House Manager for 2 years. Now I am currently Salt Lake Valley Coalition to End Homlessness Co-Chair of The Client Focused Group, Chair ofthe  Lived Experts Task Group, and the Co-Chair of the Youth Experiencing Homelessness Task Group. 

I am also currently working towards my Bachelor's degree in Political Science, I am at Salt Lake Community College and will be transferring to the University of Utah in the fall. I am dedicated to learning and making youth voices loud and heard throughout the world.

“Youth voice matters because how are we to change the system if you have never been. Bringing Youth to the table and really engaging them to provide the space to share and empower not only themselves but other youth as well. If you fail to include the youth you are filing them and allowing those who have only a single perspective to speak THEIR truth. You may think it is impossible but for our Youth that word doesn’t even exist when we take control of OUR truth.” - Maygan Martinez

Cameron Thompson, Vice President

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I am currently a House Manager at the Milestone Transitional Living Program where I mentor and teach life skills to young adults expereincing homelessness.   I graduated from the Milestone Transitional Living Program and attended Salt Lake Community College. Thanks to the Milestone Program, I graduated high school and have fully paid off my car. My objective is to aid the youth experiencing homelessness in Utah which will assist me with my end goal of using the skills and knowledge I have learned to bring effective programs and the best solutions to those who are currently experiencing or have experienced homelessness in my hometown of Mississippi. 

“Why do we fall sir? … So, we can learn to pick ourselves back up.”-My Butler             

AJ Perez, Milestone Intern

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I graduated from the University of Utah with my Bachelors in Social Work and I am currently working on my Masters of Social Work with the University of Denver's online program. I have worked for Salt Lake County's Youth Services as the former Vice President of the Youth Action Board, for about 4 years. I dedicate my time to help advocate for those whose voices need to be heard through Salt Lake County Youth Services and my Social Work background. My plan is to continue advocating in any way possible. Working with kids and teens, who struggle in their mental health with anxiety, depression, or trauma, social issues/problems, and discovering who they are, is my main goal as I move forward with becoming a therapist to help give them a platform to find their own voices and move forward with their lives, by hearing their words, and serving them when they need it. I hope when serving clients, they feel heard, advocate for, important, in a safe environment, and that they are actively working toward their goals. I enjoy playing iPhone games, taking naps, and watching movies.

Natalie Clark, Foster Care Liaison

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I spent 6 years in and out of Utah’s foster care system between the ages of 3 and 18; and had too many placements to keep track during my teenage years. I just recently graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Utah and am taking a year break in between my master’s in social work policy and advocacy to be a full-time Social Worker working with young people in the Transition to Adult Living Program through DCFS. I have worked within many roles over the last 7 years within Division of Youth Services, Foster/proctor care agencies and nonprofit organizations serving current and former foster youth. I am a National Foster Care advocate with Foster Club, the National Foster Care Alumni Council and Utah’s Children’s Bureau Youth Ambassador. I have participated on councils for many years with the goal of educating, informing and improving state foster care systems and I am elated to be a voice for foster youth and empower the voices and expertise of young people with lived experience.

”It’s not what you’ve been through in your life that defines. It’s not what you’ve been through in your life that defines who you are, it’s how you got through it that has made you the person you are today. Sometimes you have to get knocked down lower than you’ve ever been, to stand up taller than you ever were.”

Mina Rivera, Lived Expert

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If I can describe myself in a couple of words it would be someone who’s charismatic, resilient, and creative. Every situation I’ve encounter whether it be tough or fluff, I’ve used all three of these traits to assist me in success.

I’m currently making a living working as a makeup artist and selling my other mediums of art at flea markets on the side. On top of that, I’m also graduating with my communications degree and currently aspire to possibly work as a traveling journalist.

I’m a part of YAB because I was someone who's previously experienced homelessness in the last year, so to have the privilege to advocate for such a cause is something truly personal as well as YAB being truly revolutionary in the progression of eliminating the epidemic of youth experience homelessness.