ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – From writing thank-you notes for fellow volunteers to producing informational videos, one former graduate of the University of New Mexico is representing the state on a national scale. Sarah McLean was awarded the Navin Narayan Award of Excellence in Youth Leadership.

McLean is originally from San Antonio, Texas, but came to study anthropology and public health at UNM. “Service is a big part of my life and always has been. I just really love doing things for other people, it kind of helps me find my purpose within myself,” McLean said.

When she got to college, she wanted to find a way to get connect with the community that she would call home for the next four years. She looked up the local chapter of the American Red Cross and started volunteering in 2018 as part of the New Mexico/Arizona region.

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Her supervisor at the Red Cross, Volunteer Engagement Specialist Swim Karim, calls her the ‘volunteer magician.’ “She’s been instrumental to a lot of the work that we’ve done here in the region in the greater parts of Albuquerque and New Mexico in general,” Karim said.

She began at the organization working at the front desk, but Karim said they quickly realized she had the potential for more. She started leading volunteer meetings and doing data entry, which eventually led her to produce educational videos for volunteers. To this day the Arizona/New Mexico region produces a lot of videos because of the work model McLean set up.

“I’m just really proud to represent Albuquerque, even though I only lived there for a few years, I already know that the people I met there, the memories I made there, the community I was able to be a part of for that period of time, it changed me so much in a positive way,” McLean said.