The Vegetarian Resource Group's 2015 Runner-Up Scholarship: Thalia Toribio

Sponsored by the St. Louis Vegetarian Society

My story begins in January, 2011 when I decided to become a vegetarian because I've always had a sensitive stomach ... I decided to eliminate all the junk food and sodas. After a while, I gained not only health but life back ... The reason why I'm vegetarian is because I never like to eat animals and hate factory farming ... I started promoting vegetarianism to the community with a group of my friends.

I made two lists of students who would like to have more vegetables in the cafeteria, then I brought it to the principal asking him to have more vegetables in the lunch period. He nicely told me that it would be his pleasure and the next day there were more vegetables. Also I went with my cooking teacher to lunch to give free samples of healthy food. Since I got great results, I decided to talk at a bake sale the next day. I made fruit skewers to sell instead of unhealthy meat-based snacks. I also showed informational videos in school and put quotes supporting a vegetarian lifestyle on our school's information TVs.

My biggest challenge was the day my friends and I went outside of the school giving out flyers and a lady came up speaking in French ... So I took my iPod and I Google translated everything and I gave it to her ... I apologized to her and I told her that we are sorry that we only speak mostly Spanish and some English....

I have learned to explain information about vegetarianism in my lunch period so I get to explain it in Spanish to bilingual students, as well as the special needs students that we are concerned about the treatment of animals.

When I go to college I would like to create a program for vegetarians ... I would love to have the honor to give a speech in English and Spanish for people out there who don't know how to feed their body with healthy food.

My biggest strength is my parents. They are the reason why I fight for education. They motivated me to give the best. They are always giving me advice to do well in life since they didn't get to study and have an education. All of this motivates me to give my 100% in school ... One of my goals is to become a nutritionist and work in a school teaching students how to eat healthy and how to live a better life ... I know that in my school I'm one of the few people who is going for it and I have received a lot of pessimism from my peers, but that didn't stop me because I want to make a difference in my school. I had to put a lot of effort in English because it's challenging and very difficult for me because it's not my native language, but that didn't stop me from working hard.

The deadline for The Vegetarian Resource Group college scholarship contest is February 20 of each year. Over $20,000 is awarded annually. For details, see

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