World Polio Day at UVU in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations

On Wednesday, October 21st, 2020 Utah Valley University (UVU) Rotaract, in conjunction with the UVU Office of Global Engagement, held its first event of the semester. Rotaract is a member of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU. UIMF is also a UVU chapter of the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA). The event was a virtual commemoration for Rotary International’s World Polio Day, dedicated to the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations. UVU students, as well as members of Orem Rotary, who sponsored the event, watched event via a YouTube livestream video. Those presenting at the event were invited to attend in-person at 12:00 pm at room 206a of UVU’s Sorensen Center.

Presenters during the World Polio Day commemoration at UVU

 Rotaract is the student organization of Rotary International (RI). RI is an international organization founded in 1905. Since its founding, RI has grown to over one-million members worldwide. Individual RI clubs exist all over the globe. Each club is actively involved in humanitarian and other service efforts in their local communities and around the world. 

Rotaract at UVU has existed on-campus since in 2017.  UVU Rotaract implemented a student-engaged learning (SEL) model to create, organize, and execute the event. Through SEL Rotaractors gain professional skills by addressing real-world problems of local and global communities as a group with a faculty serving them as a mentor. In order to execute the World Polio Day event and gain professional skills, UVU Rotaract created a task list, whereon students could sign up for and provide help for the event. UVU Rotaract Vice President Albeny Singh reached out to local leaders in the community, and through that correspondence secured the speakers for the event. Jose Coreas, UVU Rotaract Secretary, collected biographies of the speakers to be used in the event’s brochure. New Rotaract member Jessica Hair attended the event on-campus and acted as the event photographer. Sam Elzinga, Utah International Mountain Forum President, provided UVU masks as part of the special gift for each presenter. As president of UVU Rotaract, I had the opportunity to create an event poster, coordinate with the UVU Office of Global Engagement, moderate and present at the event. Student – contributors for the event and students in the audience, like Kaden Smart and Diogo DaSilva then had an opportunity to share their experiences from the activities after the event by submitting their reflective essays.

RI has contributed greatly to the eradication of Polio. From raising funds to providing vaccines to children in remote locations throughout the world, RI has helped eradicate 99% of Polio. From 350,000 cases in 1985 to now only 29 cases left in the world, Rotary continues these efforts.

At the event, four members of the local community presented on their fields of expertise. The speakers were, in order: Dr. Baldomero Lago, Yana Andersen, Dr. Scott Leckman, and Dr. Dean Robinson.

Dr. Baldomero Lago, VP for Global Engagement at UVU speaks about United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

The first speaker at the event, Dr. Lago of the UVU Office of Global Engagement emphasized the importance of international cooperation through non-governmental organizations. He explained the United Nations’ Seventeen Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs), and praised Rotary International’s paramount efforts in achieving these goals. He highlighted SDG number three, health and wellness. Through Rotary’s efforts to eradicate Polio, they’ve contributed directly to that goal.

Yana Andersen, UVU Rotaract President speaks at the event

As the second speaker, I was able to speak on the background of Rotary and Rotaract. I discussed the contributions UVU Rotaract has made to promote both the six Rotary Goals as well as the UN SDGs. I highlighted past UVU Rotaract contributions to the UN agenda, including their presentation at the 63rd UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Next March, UVU Rotaract will return back for the 64th UN CSW to present research on the model that Rotary provides on an international and local level for effective community engagement. This model can be used to improve the lives of women and girls in mountain communities, in order to prove their quality of life. This model will focus on contributing to SDGs three, five, and six.

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to connect with our main presenter, Dr. Scott Leckman, via Zoom. Dr. Leckman is a former Utah District Rotary Governor, and has been involved personally with eradicating Polio. He presented on the several trips he has taken to India to personally administer oral vaccines. Since 1985, yearly polio cases went from 350,000 per year, to only 29 cases in the world. Rotary International continues to raise funds and provide vaccinations to children.

Dr. Scott Leckman, former Utah District Rotary Governor speaks via Zoom

Dr. Leckman then received questions from students interested in joining Rotaracts, and offered an invitation for students to attend the Utah Rotary World Polio Day event on Saturday, October 24th. His presentation was informative and inspirational and provided such meaningful context for the incredible efforts of Rotary International to make the world a safer place for all to live in.

Dean Robinson, Orem Rotary president speaks during the event

Our final presenter was Dean Robinson, current Orem Rotary president. Dr. Robinson presented on the history of Rotary’s inception, its connection to the United Nations, and reported on the contributions Utah Rotary has had in performing service and making an indispensable difference in Utah communities. He highlighted that Salt Lake City Rotary was created in 1911, several years after RI was established by Paul Harris in 1905.  In the last year, Utah Rotary has contributed over 34,000 hours of service by over 8,000 members.

UVU Rotaract is deeply grateful for the efforts of the presenters, as well as for the Orem Rotary for sponsoring the event. UVU Rotaract looks forward to working on future events, and is committed to continuing to promote Rotary goals and the UN SDGs, in order to create communities of peace and well-being for all.

Yana Andersen

UVU Rotaract President










Scott Leckman

Yana Andersen



Albeny Singh-World Polio Day at Utah Valley University



Kaden Smart- Rotaract Polio Activity

Diogo Dasilva-World Polio Day Celebration at UVU

Sarah Michaelis-UVU Rotaract hosts World Polio Day

Patricia Mo’unga-World Polio Day at Utah Valley University

Mitchell Hansen-Polio Commemoration at Utah Valley University