SALT LAKE CITY — On Mother's Day, 8-year-old A'talia Lepper helped her grandmother stuff dough and fold it into lumpia, the spring rolls popular in the matriarch's native Phillipines.
Other times, she chows down on rice cake soup, a nod to her Korean heritage on her mother's side.
And when she gets the chance, A'talia will stir up a batch of brownies or cookies at her family's Clearfield home, "because they’re fun to make because I can do it with my mommy," she said.
The budding baker, also part Caucasian and of Spanish descent, is among a growing number of Utahns of mixed heritage — many right around her same age, census figures released late Wednesday show.
As the Beehive State's 3.1 million population becomes increasingly diverse, those who are biracial and multiracial are fueling more and more of the change, with a growth rate of 42.5 percent since 2010, according to the 2018 Population Estimates.
A'talia's parents, military brats who moved to Davis County as kids about 30 years ago, have seen the change take place within their community. A'talia's classmates are more racially diverse than their's were years ago, Michelle Lepper said. And they have seen a surge in nearby eateries offering foreign fare like Vietnamese, Indian and their favorite, sushi — a change they believe points to more and more newcomers who call Utah home.
"We have friends of all ethnic backgrounds, so (A'talia) sees the diversity there," her father, Aaron Lepper, said.
At the time of the 2010 census, about 46,600 Utahns identified as more than one race, a number that grew to more than 66,400 last year, according to the new population estimates. More than half the group are children or teens under 18, making it the youngest of any ethnic or racial group in Utah.
"These are the kids of the diverse adults who have moved here," said Pamela Perlich, director of demographic research at the University of Utah's Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. "Hispanics were really driving Utah's minority population for a long time, but now you're finding more diversity among diversity."
Because the Census Bureau does not include Hispanic Utahns in the multiracial picture, A'talia's Spanish heritage means she would not be counted in the group. Instead she would be tallied in the number of Hispanic residents, who make up the bulk — about 56 percent — of Utah's minority growth in the last year.
Though a fraction of Utah's overall population, the multiracial group is the second-fastest growing among Utah's minorities in the eight-year period. It is outpaced only by a growing Asian population as highly educated immigrants move from Asia to the Beehive State, in large part to satisfy demand in Utah's tech and biomedical industries.
The numbers fit a long-term trend of an increasingly diverse state, said Perlich, whose team analyzed the census date and shared its findings with the Deseret News. Utah is now 22 percent minorities, with the highest concentration in Salt Lake County.
But it's not just the multiracial group that's largely young. The estimates out Wednesday show that more than 1 in 4 Utahns under age 18 — about 26.5 percent — are minorities.
They include Angel Marshall, 17, of Syracuse, who on Wednesday was crowned Miss Juneteenth at a Salt Lake City celebration of the holiday honoring the abolition of slavery in the U.S. Wearing a sash, Marshall said she plans to one day run for president, in large part to inspire others and combat poverty.
Marshall, also a child of military parents who has lived in Japan, Alaska and Florida, said she was skeptical when her family told her she would be moving to Utah about four years ago.
"There's no black people there," friends told her. She feared she wouldn't fit in because she is not a Latter-day Saint.
"You're not going to have any fun," she remembers thinking. But she now feels her concerns were unfounded and has friends of several faiths, she said. She has seen more black families move to the state, she said Wednesday, and a better turnout at the Juneteenth celebration than in the past, including attendees who are not black.
"It shows people our heritage, and they experience new things," she said.
Even with the change, many of Utah's signature demographics remain, the data shows. The Beehive State continues to be the youngest state in the nation, though its median age has ticked up to 31, up from 29 in 2010.
"The dominant culture of Utah will remain the dominant culture of Utah for the foreseeable future, " Perlich said. "Many new people and cultures and ideas and languages, linguistic traditions, will continue to move to Utah, because it's a place of opportunity and growth."
And while newcomers bring traditions with them, they also are influenced by Utah's own unique culture, Perlich said.
Anthony Matthews, who attended the Juneteenth celebration with his family, moved to West Jordan from Indiana in the 1972, at age 7. He and a friend have long joked that when they see another black man in Utah, "the population just doubled," he said.18 comments on this story
While the number of African American Utahns has risen steadily — up 4.6 percent in 2018 from a year earlier — Matthews noted, the group of 36,000 is about 1 percent of the state's total population. He said it means leaders in the state fail to consider concerns of the community, including police acting out violently toward unarmed black men.
He encourages his six children, two of whom are biracial, to speak up when they disagree with something and stay true to themselves, he said.
"I think it's important for them to know who they are and where they came from, how far we've come and where we started in this country," he said. "It's important to remember those things. We've come a long way."