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Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Members of the Calvin Smith Elementary lion dance team — David Fuller, back left, Paige Mills, second from left wearing mask, Dylan Lutz, Kennedi Gonzalez, wearing mask, Xander Stensrud, wearing mask, and Chris Jensen, on the steps — wait to perform during Multicultural Youth Leadership Day at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019.

SALT LAKE CITY — Stepping outside of a classroom has a bigger impact than discussions inside, according to Emily Gonzalez, Latinos in Action adviser at Alta High School.

"For students to be able to see where they can be is huge," Gonzalez said.

High school students from around Utah gathered at the state Capitol on Tuesday for an event designed to help them develop leadership skills, be engaged in their communities and get higher education.

Gov. Gary Herbert came to speak to the students.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Gov. Gary Herbert speaks during Multicultural Youth Leadership Day at the State Office Building in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019.

"It's important what we do here in this 45-day session, and it's equally important that you're here to be a part of it and for us to be able to recognize you and the contribution that you make to our great state," Herbert said.

He also spoke about the importance of higher education and taking advantage of opportunities.

"The odds of you moving up the economic ladder in Utah are the best in America," Herbert said.

He encouraged the students to set goals and envision what they are going to do with their higher education.

"When the governor comes they are excited to know that (he) took time out to be with our youth to let them know that they are valued and that they are important and they are respected. I think that is huge," said Jackie Thompson, a member of the Multicultural Commission.

Anderson Da Silva Leguizamon received an award for excellence in education at the event. He said some of the efforts he was recognized for included participating in organizations at school including Latinos in Action, ballroom dance and groups designed to help other students.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Mohammad Alzouabi and Alaa Al-Barkawi applaud a speaker during Multicultural Youth Leadership Day at the State Office Building in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019.

"I would definitely encourage (multicultural students) to get their grades up in school and get involved. … The more you get involved the more opportunities will come," Leguizamon said.

He said minorities may have a disadvantage at times, but there are many good programs available to help minimize it if they seek them out.

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Gonzalez agreed, saying she learned from the event that there are more ways she can involve and support her students.

"I think there's always something that you can gain just from having that human-to-human connection and hearing about people's journeys, it's huge," Gonzalez said.

Comparing it to getting "Hamilton" tickets, Thompson said the event is very popular and the 220 spots are taken quickly each year. However, she said it is important for the students to be at the Capitol.

"Every year I don't think it can get better, but it does," Thompson said.