Philanthropic teen to serve community as festival princess
Phoenix Gan's experience with the Sandy Mountain Festival has revolved mostly around the parade.
Her mother Charlie has worked with Impact Learning Center since Phoenix was in fourth grade, allowing her a spot in the opening festivities for years, but Phoenix has yet to enjoy all the festival has to offer.
"Being a princess, there's a lot of different events and activities we get to go to that I never even really knew were here in the community," the 15-year-old admits. "When I was nominated, it was kind of like 'Wow. Sandy Mountain Festival is really big.' There's a lot more going on than I ever knew. It will be a really great experience."
Phoenix's family has resided in Sandy off and on for most of her life, though her mother considers her a third-generation Sandy native.
Her grandparents and parents both volunteer with the Kiwanis Club, and somehow Phoenix managed for years to help out in the parade and at a booth for her family's altruistic efforts and never actually saw the big picture that is Sandy Mountain Festival.
As a member of the Sandy High School Key Club and volunteer for several Kiwanis and community efforts, one can almost see how the family's volunteerism might have overshadowed other festival events.
As a freshman, Phoenix is very service-oriented, and recently earned her letter in Key Club for her aid in the community.
In the past year, Phoenix has helped with the Kiwanis canned food drive, Christmas Basket program and Easter Egg Hunt, and helped with middle school track events.
"It's helped her be more involved directly with the community," her mother says. Phoenix also helps on occasion at Impact Learning Center, providing additional tutoring to students and aiding in art room activities.
"(Key Club) has really benefitted me," she says. "It has gotten me more involved in the community and has allowed me to gain more experience working with people."
Even though she has only just completed her first year of high school, Phoenix already has an idea that she'd like to study anthropology and archaeology in college at Bringham Young University in Utah.
"I love history so much," she says. "Even though both (studies) include some sciences, I'd be willing to push through."
While attending Oregon Trail Academy, Phoenix also hopes to earn her associate degree from Mt. Hood Community College.
After graduating with an International Baccalaureate diploma, she plans to attend one year of college before taking off to serve a two-year mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and then return to her studies.
"I feel like if I go on this mission — help serve these people — I feel like I will grow and mature so much more than I would (otherwise)," she explains. "It's an opportunity I'm really looking forward to."
For now, however, Phoenix focuses most on being in the parade with the court.
"My mom works with a lot of students," she says of her past experience. "They're all super supportive of each other. The entire environment of the parade — everyone being there for Sandy, for the community — it's really nice."