CALIFORNIA STUDENT ARPI KESHISHIAN WINS $10,000 VEGETARIAN RESOURCE GROUP SCHOLARSHIP

Arpi wrote, “Knowing that millions of animals are suffering
and being killed in factory farms each year, just to be served as school
lunches that would usually be left uneaten, completely broke my heart. I knew
that something had to change … I decided to create a plant-based survey and
send it out to students across my school district. In this survey, I questioned
if the student would want to have more plant-based options, what plant-based
meals they are interested in, and what their reasoning was behind their answer.
I then used ArcGIS (an online mapping application) to create a dashboard
displaying the survey results. I included bar graphs, pie charts, and maps to
demonstrate the percentage of students who wanted vegan and/or vegetarian
options and I displayed where the data was gathered from with the use of a pie
chart and a map. I then set up a zoom meeting with my school’s nutritional
services director where I pitched my idea and used my survey and dashboard
results as evidence that our school district had a clear demand for more
plant-based options.” Arpi’s reference stated: “She got the whole district
food services administration to join Zoom, and led the meeting, presenting fact
based data to support incorporating vegan options on a regular basis for school
meals. Our district food services director was so impressed with the work she
had done researching affordable vegan options for our lunch and snack menu that
she thanked Arpi for doing the survey saying that data does make a difference,
and asked her to send her the data collected from her survey. Through her
efforts the food service director did commit to including falafel, soymilk,
fruit parfaits, and other vegan items to the school menu.”

Additionally, to further encourage vegetarianism in her
community, Arpi partnered with the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition to
represent them at her high school’s AP environmental science courses. As a
guest speaker, she spoke to two classrooms regarding the ethical and
environmental issues linked with factory farming. In addition, she also created
a quick-and-easy vegan recipe tutorial on her school’s tv show, Quarter Past
Clark.

For her senior thesis, Arpi did a paper on food subsidies.
She plans to focus her career around advocating for and creating new food-based
policies in the United States. She said, “Major topics that I am interested in
are transitioning governmental food subsidies away from animal agriculture
towards fruit and vegetable farms. … I believe that in order to further
spread the vegan and vegetarian movements, it is essential to stay
compassionate in all aspects of life, by treating everyone with kindness, both
humans and nonhuman animals alike.” Arpi will be attending UC San Diego for a
political science and public policy major, with a minor in climate change
studies.

The deadline for the next Vegetarian Resource Group
scholarship contest for high school seniors graduating in 2022 is February 20,
2022. To see rules and past scholarship winners, visit vrg.org/student/scholar.htm

To support additional scholarships and internships, donate
at vrg.org/donate,
call (410) 366-8343, or send donations to VRG, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD
21203.

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