AWI scholarship winners lead grassroots efforts to improve the lives of animals

Washington D.C.—The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) today announced the 15 winners of a scholarship designed to support high school seniors seeking a post-secondary education aimed at improving the lives of animals.

In his third year, the scholarship program recognizes students across 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 182 applicants, received $2,000 each.

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

As part of the application process, students were asked to describe their college plans, career aspirations, current animal welfare efforts, and views on animal welfare issues. 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 and school presentations on important animal welfare issues.

Many aspiring veterinarians applied for the scholarship, along with students from disciplines related to 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 unnecessary harm and 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, Gunston School, Maryland; Skylar Nahouray, New West Charter School, California; Cassandra Price, River Valley Charter School, California; Christopher Reigel, Cherry Hill West High School, New Jersey; Lily Thomas, Putnam County High School, Georgia; Haley Walker, Madison County High School, Virginia; and Tylar Zingerella, Wando High School, South Carolina.

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In addition to the AWI scholarship, AWI, in partnership with the Humane Education Network, conducts a “A voice for the animalscompetition. High school students around the world receive cash prizes for essays, photo essays or videos that examine animal suffering and present possible solutions.

The Animal Welfare Institute ( is a non-profit charity 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 lab, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. Follow us Facebook, Twitter, Y Instagram for updates and other important animal protection news.