AWI Scholarship Winners Lead Grassroots Efforts to Improve Animals’ Lives

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Washington, DC—The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) announced today the 15 winners of a scholarship designed to support high school seniors who are pursuing a post-secondary education intended to better the lives of animals.

In its third year, the scholarship program recognizes students in the United States who are actively involved in helping animals in their schools or communities and plan to continue such efforts in college and beyond. The 15 winners, selected from among 182 applicants, received $2,000 each.

“These dedicated young humanitarians have demonstrated the initiative and drive to help improve animals’ lives,” said Cathy Liss, AWI’s president. “We are proud to support this next generation of advocates as they plan to pursue studies that will allow them to devote their careers to improving animal welfare.” 

As part of the application process, students were asked to describe their college plans, career aspirations, current efforts on behalf of animals, and views on animal-welfare related topics. This year’s winners demonstrated an impressive level of volunteerism at animal shelters, wildlife rehabilitation clinics, and horse rescues, with extracurricular activities ranging from caring for stray cats, to donating pet supplies for homeless animals, to giving school presentations on important animal welfare issues.

Many aspiring veterinarians applied for the scholarship, along with students pursuing disciplines involving wildlife biology, animal behavior, environmental studies, and animal law. The varied career goals of these students demonstrate how professionals from different backgrounds can work to protect animals from harm and unnecessary suffering.

The winners are:

Ariana Camacho, Hudson High School, New York; Meleah Eckels, Churchill Academy, Alabama; Iris Gillespie, J. Graham Brown School, Kentucky; Jesus Hadad, Obra D. Tompkins High School, Texas; Sage Hall, Gulf Breeze High School, Florida; Emily Keller, Skyline High School, Utah; Weslyn McLaws, West Henderson High School, North Carolina; AnaVictoria Medina, homeschooled, Missouri; Alexis Meiklejohn, The Gunston School, Maryland; Skylar Nahouray, New West Charter School, California; Cassandra Price, River Valley Charter School, California; Christopher Reigel, Cherry Hill High School West, New Jersey; Lily Thomas, Putnam County High School, Georgia; Haley Walker, Madison County High School, Virginia; and Tylar Zingerella, Wando High School, South Carolina.

In addition to the AWI scholarship, AWI, in partnership with the Humane Education Network, holds an annual “A Voice for Animals” competition. High school students from all over the world are awarded cash prizes for essays, photo essays, or videos that examine animal suffering and present possible solutions.

Media Contact Information

Marjorie Fishman, Animal Welfare Institute, (202) 446-2128

The Animal Welfare Institute ( is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates and other important animal protection news.

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