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Five Valley Students Earn MLK Youth Leadership Awards (01/24/2022)

Jan. 24, 2022 | Five Valley High School students — juniors Aisha Abdirahman, Andrew Croft, and Aaron Langille and seniors Alyssa Makena and Nathan Steimel — earned the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. West Des Moines Youth Leadership Award, presented annually by the City of West Des Moines Human Rights Commission and West Des Moines Martin Luther King Day Planning Committee. Award recipients are high school students who have demonstrated leadership and made significant contributions in the areas of: 

  • Promoting peace and understanding,
  • Celebrating diversity, equity, and inclusion, and 
  • Improving communication and cooperation between diverse populations in the West Des Moines community/schools.

To apply, students must have two or more years of visible and continuing leadership in education, religion, civil rights, and/or service to the community. They must also be in good academic standing, live or attend high school in West Des Moines, and be first-time recipients of this award. 

Recipients were honored at the  “Strength to Love” celebration honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Jan. 17 and received $1,000-1,500 scholarships following the recognition ceremony. Congratulations to these outstanding leaders! 

Aisha Abdirahman, Valley High School junior — Received a $1,500 MLK Youth Scholarship Award

  • Plans to attend college
  • Community Involvement: Leader in Valley High School’s Community for Racial Equity Group; Co-Facilitator Programming Subcommittee, Civil and Human Rights Symposium; and Co-Facilitator of Book Club highlighting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Andrew Croft, Valley High School junior — Received a $1,500 MLK Youth Scholarship Award

  • Plans to attend college
  • Community Involvement: Hunger Hike Volunteer; Youth Mentor; Builds Connections for the Elderly; Volunteer in Vacation Bible School; Preaches at WDM Christian Church; Leads Students in Planet 7; Running Coach for Elementary School Youth; and Teaches Viola Lessons.

Aaron Langille, Valley High School junior — Received $1,000 MLK Youth Scholarship Award

  • Plans to study mechanical engineering in college
  • Community Involvement: Meals from the Heartland; Faith & Grace Garden; Blank Park Zoo; Polk County Conversation Youth Corp; and Led Mobile Blood Drive.

Alyssa Makena, Valley High School senior — Received a $1,500 MLK Youth Scholarship Award 

  • Plans to major in public health and African diaspora studies on a pre-med track
  • Community Involvement: Leader in Valley High School’s Community for Racial Equity; Helped to Organize the MLK Jr. Youth Conference; Organized Daily Educational Announcements During Black History Month in 2021; and Co-Facilitator of Book Club highlighting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Nathan Steimel, Valley High School senior — Received a $1,000 MLK Youth Scholarship Award

  • Plans to attend college 
  • Community Involvement: Led the Restoration of the Valley High School Greenhouse; Wrote Grants and Raised $5,000 for the Effort; Started a Greenhouse Club with 80 members; Retrofitted the Greenhouse to be Wheelchair Accessible; and Raised $10,00 to Fund Greenhouse Irrigation System

The Youth Leadership Scholarship Award is proudly sponsored by:

  • Athene
  • IMT Insurance, supporting three scholarships
  • Katherine Harrington
  • Krause Group
  • MidAmerican Energy Company
  • Nebraska Furniture Mart, supporting two scholarships
  • Palmer Group
  • S&S Employment
  • Sammons Financial Group 
  • U.S. Bank, supporting two scholarships
  • West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce
Alexandra Wade