GOSHEN — Goshen resident and recent Northridge High School graduate Jullian Arredondo has been awarded $25,000 through the Taco Bell Foundation’s Live Más Scholarship program.
According to Taco Bell representative Kadrie Lamin, the Taco Bell Foundation awarded $4.6 million in Live Más Scholarships to 531 students and employees across the country this past spring, one of whom was Arredondo.
“Jullian won $25,000, the highest amount awarded,” Lamin said of the scholarship program. “He was selected out of 13,000 total applicants to win this year’s scholarship, and is one of only 10 winners in the “consumer” category — aka Taco Bell fans — to be awarded a $25,000 scholarship to pursue his passion for education.”
Arredondo, who is autistic, said he learned of the Taco Bell Foundation’s Live Más Scholarship program while searching online for scholarships for which he might qualify.
“I decided to enter the competition due to the amount of money being awarded, which would help cover college expenses, and my confidence in my ability to articulate my beliefs,” said Arredondo, who plans on attending Indiana State University in the fall. “The scholarship required a video submission on one’s passion. My video was on education. More specifically, it was about how I am pursuing my intended career of being an educator, and what roles it plays or should play in society.”
“As he shares in his application video, his autism made it challenging for him to form meaningful relationships growing up. But one of his teachers took a special interest in him, which inspired him to become a teacher as well, and educate other students like himself,” Lamin added of what helped Arredondo’s video stand out from the crowd. “He plans on studying mathematics and earning his teaching degree from Indiana State with hopes to share his insights with the world. Jullian is also applying for a Japanese exchange teaching program to diversify his learning experience and immerse himself in another culture so he can share his learnings with his future students.”
Arredondo said he first learned that he had won the scholarship back in May, and had initially thought he was just being notified that his video had not made the cut.
“Despite my confidence in the strength of my video, I have always found it best to expect the worse and strive for the best. So I had told myself it was likely just to inform me I had not won,” Arredondo said of the notification. “Yet to both the excitement of me and my family, it was quite the opposite. The video card was of the Taco Bell Family congratulating me on winning the scholarship, and welcoming me to the Taco Bell Family.”
Arredondo said he chose to attend Indiana State University due to the fact that it is relatively close to his hometown while still being far enough away to allow him to exercise his independence.
“I also chose ISU due to its listing among some of the best bangs for your bucks schools in Indiana,” he added of the choice, noting that he already has his next five years all planned out. “In the next five years, I will have gotten a bachelor’s in mathematics and a teaching certificate. By this time I intend to have already applied and start working in the Japanese Exchange Teaching Program. I intend to apply to the Japanese Exchange Teaching program, because it is the largest exchange program in Japan, and the reason for wanting to work in Japan is because of it being as radically different culturally as it is while also being a safe place to live.”
The Taco Bell Foundation’s Live Más Scholarship is designed to help students pursue their unique passions.
Unlike other scholarships, Taco Bell doesn’t choose winners based on academic merit or athletic ability. All the application requires is a two-minute video describing what the applicant loves to do. Both employees and any young fans of the brand ages 16 to 24 can apply. Scholarships range from $5,000 to $25,000 per student.
John Kline can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-533-2151, ext. 315. Follow John on Twitter @jkline_TGN