Student-athletes giving back

The 2021 Utah Athletes in Service Award recognizes student-athletes with a demonstrated commitment to community engagement. As athletes, they are supported by the University of Utah community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni. As humans, many of them give back to our community in various ways.

The Bennion Center, in collaboration with University of Utah Athletics, honored Dru Gylten and Lexi Mills with this annual award during halftime at Saturday’s UCLA vs. Utah football game.

“The Bennion Center encourages community engagement as an important part of the educational experience at the U,” said Dean McGovern, Bennion Center executive director. “These student-athletes serve as role models on and off the field, court, track, and pool. They inspire us by overcoming busy academic and athletic schedules to make genuine contributions to their community.”

Dru Gylten

Dru Gylten, a senior majoring in kinesiology and guard for the women’s basketball team, assists her community on and off the court, especially when it comes to recruiting her fellow student athletes to volunteer at the Bennion Center’s annual Legacy of Lowell day of service.

“In all the organizations I have been a part of one thing seemed to be consistent throughout, make someone else’s day by listening to them and providing help in areas they want help in,” said Gylten. “Through listening I was able to build a connection and know I was actually making real change happen, because that’s what they said they needed help with.”

Lexi Mills

Lexi Mills, a junior majoring in health and kinesiology, and diver for the women’s swimming and diving team, jumps head first into community engagement by volunteering with the American Red Cross in her role as regional volunteer screening team leader.

“When I began seeking volunteer opportunities with the American Red Cross, I had originally sought to be in a hands-on role in hopes to best serve my community. However, after learning about the urgent need for volunteer screening team members, I realized that the best way for me to serve my community was by serving where I was needed the most,” said Mills. “I believe this role has uniquely prepared me for my journey to becoming a nurse.”

Gylten agreed, “My future plans require community engagement, I want to go into the medical field, where many programs require it. But, there’s more to it, I want to be able to be a light in the darkness of this world, and by making one person smile brings me joy. I want to shine that light into whatever my future is.”

Mills said her hope is to partner with the Bennion Center, which she described as an “incredible resource,” to help bring additional volunteer opportunities to her student peers.

Applications for this annual award open in late August and close in early October each year.