Mackenzie Taylor and Emma Webster to visit Leshan, China;
Trey Lines and Nicole Schuermann to visit Antrim-Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland

l-r: Mackenzie Taylor, Emma Webster, Nicole Schuermann and Trey Lines).

GILBERT, Ariz. (February 26, 2018) — As part of its mission to foster international and intercultural knowledge and understanding, Gilbert Sister Cities has selected four Highland High School juniors to serve as 2018 Youth Ambassadors. After hosting students from Leshan, China, and Antrim-Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, this summer, Mackenzie Taylor and Emma Webster will spend two weeks in Leshan, while Trey Lines and Nicole Schuermann will spend three weeks in Antrim-Newtownabbey.

Youth Ambassador candidates participate in a rigorous, six-week selection process that includes group and individual interviews, social events, fundraisers and an essay. “Each applicant is incredibly accomplished; observing them in a variety of situations allows our selection committee to get know them very well to determine who would best represent Gilbert while abroad as well as showcase life in America,” says Suzanne Lunt, Gilbert Sister Cities’ president. “Mackenzie, Emma, Trey and Nicole will be outstanding in their roles, and we look forward to working with them throughout the year.”

Taylor currently plays on Highland’s varsity basketball team and plays club ball in the off season. Additionally, she is involved with the Extra Mile Community Service Club, Math Club, Physics Club and National Honor Society. She volunteers at Highland’s front office as well as through her church, and privately tutors elementary students.

Webster is first clarinet for Wind Ensemble, Highland’s top band, and also participates in Physics Club. She dances with Fuse Dance Company and is actively involved in her church congregation, where she serves as youth council representative. Moreover, she tutors a junior high student twice a week in math.

Lines, who competes on Highland’s wrestling and track teams, also studies aviation at East Valley Institute of Technology. He is an award-winning member of Highland’s Future Farmers of America and works part-time at Home Depot.

Schuermann has served as Highland’s yearbook editor-in-chief for two years and also participates in National Honor Society and varsity swim team. She volunteers for a number of community organizations, including Andre’s House, Feed My Starving Children, Sonoma Ranch Elementary and her church.

Before beginning the student exchange, Gilbert Sister Cities Youth Ambassadors participate in the Gilbert Global Village Festival. After they return, they are involved in the Gilbert Days Parade, visit schools to share information about the program and serve as mentors for the next group of candidates. Earlier this month, 2017 Youth Ambassadors Nathan Greenlee, Bryson Jones, Adison McIntosh and Lauren Smith shared their experiences at a Gilbert Town Council meeting.

“Many candidates comment on how beneficial the program is in preparing them for job interviews as well as college and scholarship applications,” Lunt says. “The experiences our Youth Ambassadors have throughout the year—not to mention the contacts they make in the community—gives them an even greater advantage as they enter the real world.”

Gilbert Sister Cities will begin accepting applications for 2019 in the fall; any junior living in Gilbert or attending a Gilbert or Higley school is welcome to apply. Youth Ambassadors are available to speak at schools and youth programs to provide details and answer questions.


About Gilbert Sister Cities
Established in 1998 as a community-supported nonprofit organization, Gilbert Sister Cities brings the world together through cultural, educational, trade and sports programs that promote international and intercultural knowledge and understanding. Gilbert has two sister cities: Antrim-Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland (1998) and Leshan, China (2002). More information is available at



20-year-old exchange program helps participants garner awards

GILBERT, Ariz. (May 25, 2018) — Because competition for college scholarships is fierce, applicants must find ways to stand out; participation in Gilbert Sister Cities’ Youth Ambassador Program helped four recent Gilbert Public Schools graduates receive national and local scholarships.

“Spending three weeks immersed in a foreign culture is an impressive experience that provides Youth Ambassadors with a variety of compelling anecdotes for essays and interviews,” says Suzanne Lunt, Gilbert Sister Cities’ president. “But long before they leave, Gilbert Sister Cities helps them not only hone networking, interviewing and presentation skills, but also accumulate volunteer hours that separate them from the pack.”

Nathan Greenlee

Nathan Greenlee, who graduated from Campo Verde High School (CVHS), will study mechanical engineering at Arizona State University (ASU). He received a $10,000 renewable ASU’s Presidential Scholarship.

Bryson Jones

Bryson Jones, a Mesquite High School graduate, will attend ASU’s Barrett Honors College to study public service and public policy. In addition to receiving ASU’s renewable Dean’s ($6,000), Medallion ($3,600) and Michaels ($2,500) Scholarships, he was awarded the renewable Neely Foundation Scholarship ($3,000), AXA Achievement Scholarship ($2,500), Gilbert Chamber Partners in Progress Scholarship ($1,500), Arizona Elks Most Valued Student Scholarship ($1,550) and the American Legion Arizona Eagle Scout of the Year Award.

Adison McIntosh

CVHS graduate Adison McIntosh will attend ASU Polytechnic to study global agribusiness. She received ASU’s renewable $6,000 Dean’s Scholarship as well as a $1,200 Williams Family FFA Scholarship.

Lauren Smith, who also graduated from CVHS, will study mechanical engineering at University of San Diego.

Lauren Smith

She received USD’s renewable $21,000 Trustee Scholarship and a renewable $6,400 USD Scholarship.

“Seeing universities, foundations and organizations recognize how talented these Youth Ambassadors are is gratifying but not surprising,” Lunt says. “They grabbed our attention throughout the Gilbert Sister Cities selection process, and we knew they would reflect well on

Gilbert. We’re very proud of them and are excited to see what they accomplish in the years to come.”

Gilbert Sister Cities will begin accepting applications for 2019 in the fall; any junior living in

Gilbert or attending a Gilbert or Higley school is welcome to apply. Youth Ambassadors are available to speak at schools and youth programs to provide details and answer questions.

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