Meet 2020 Live Mas Scholarship Recipients


Taco Bell Foundation announces 2020 live mas scholarships for passionate students across the country. Meet 10 recipients who are making a big impact in their communities and beyond, inspiring others with passion and creativity!

Dharshan V. | Medicine

Dharshan was born into a family of Deaf adults and is passionate about battling misconceptions against the deaf community. After building up his own cultural events that appeal to both hearing people as well as those who are deaf, Dharshan now works with young South Asians from each group in order to unite them through initiatives focused on youth culture.

A recent graduate of Duke University, Dharshan will be studying global health and neuroscience in the Fall to learn more about biological mechanisms and solutions for deafness. Long term, his goal is to work as a physician and policymaker so that he can improve access for all individuals with hearing loss.

Ruchir B. | Coding

Ruchir is a tech enthusiast who has been coding since the age of 12. He was born and raised in India, where he first discovered his passion for programming by hacking into Windows XP software with help from some other school friends. His latest project Rescuer stands out as one that gives hope to people around the world when they can’t get emergency assistance due to lack of resources or knowledge about their location at any given time (especially in areas ravaged by conflict). Ruchir also runs coding competitions locally – something it seems like everyone should be doing!

Ruchir loves computers so much that even though he’s not an American citizen yet, he plans on studying computer science while pursuing a business degree here at UC Berkeley.

Shakar S. | Aviation

Shakar Bunyan, a 17-year-old with her private pilot’s license, is now training to become an airline pilot and wants nothing more than to inspire others. She volunteers for multiple aviation organizations in order to speak out about the benefits of following one’s dreams. Shakar has big goals: she hopes that by studying at Thrust Flight School and working as a flight attendant, she can provide support for individuals from underrepresented groups looking for someone they identify with within the industry. Her dedication stems deep down–she feels it necessary not only because we need diversity but also because there are people who will be inspired when they see somebody like them doing what seems impossible or unimaginable!

At just seventeen years old, Shakar had already earned.

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Julia C. | Veterinary Care

After a volunteer opportunity at the hospital, Julia realized that service animals provide an invaluable impact on patient’s lives. Tired of seeing plastic pollution in her community and not being able to do anything about it, she went back to school for vet techs where she hopes to be responsible enough one day with those critical skillsets so as rise up against this major environmental problem plaguing our world today.

Presley L. | Cheerleading & Medicine

Presley was born with a disability, but that never stopped her from pursuing the things she loved. She started cheerleading at age 5 and competed for two years before being forced to stop because of an injury. When Presley heard about an all-star team in San Jose where everyone had disabilities, she contacted them immediately so they could start their own squad!

“I felt this really strong connection,” recalled Presley as we sat down after practice one-day last week. “And I knew it would be amazing if there were other girls who wanted to do what I did.” Her dream came true when shortly thereafter Team Gemini has created–the first-ever all-disabilities competitive cheerleading team in our area!”

Rya P. | Mental Health Advocacy & Film

Rya has always been a confidant for her friends experiencing mental health issues. In high school, she discovered filmmaking and created an award-winning suicide prevention PSA which sparked an important dialogue in her community and further fed the drive to create authentic content that provided affirmation as well as education. After graduating from Loyola Marymount University with degrees in film production, Rya hopes to become both a documentary director while also launching free counselling services for youth around the country through nonprofit organizations.

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Artis T. | Food Education

It was a pivotal moment in Rya’s life when she had an epiphany that there were other ways to help others with mental health issues. After her suicide prevention PSA sparked important dialogue within the community, Rya found filmmaking and has continued creating films about different topics such as homelessness and LGBTQ+ relationships. She hopes to become a documentary director as well as launching a nonprofit organization for youth who need counselling services free of charge after college.

After college, Artis is planning on getting a master’s degree in geography to focus on community agricultural development. He hopes he can work for a nonprofit that manages community gardens and teaches about nutrition education.

Larson R. | Technology

The teen inventor has been utilizing his tech talents to create custom LED sweatshirts, speedometers for remote control cars and automated systems that help 3D printers. Not only does he polish up the skills needed to be a successful engineer but also shows students in his community how technology changes our world with lectures on design principles and coding basics.

In less than two years from now, Larson will begin college at the University of Nevada Reno where he plans to learn more about engineering while continuing innovating people’s lives through technological advances like improved health care solutions or efficient green energy production.

Tyler Z. | Helping Others

Tyler is halfway through his program to obtain a business administration degree at Gonzaga University and he passionately wants to help others. Tyler created the Hope Festival, which hosts an annual event dedicated to people experiencing poverty or homelessness that can receive material goods like canned food and clothing; services such as haircuts or eye exams; connections with organizations that serve them long after the festival ends.

For 5 years, the Hope Festival has served more than 8,000 individuals in and around Seattle. Upon graduation, Tyler plans to scale up this organization so that it can serve even more people who need help.

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Aliza C. | Art Education

When Aliza was 9-years old, her parents met at a Taco Bell in California. Now more than 20 years later, she is glad that they did because it has helped lead to this opportunity for education thanks to the Live Mas Scholarship from the Taco Bell Foundation. After graduating college as an art teacher with inspiration and passion like no other, Aliza plans on inspiring those around her just like how others have inspired and influenced her throughout life!

The story of when my dad first saw mom seems so funny now but back then he really wanted some tacos. When I heard about his love story through friends who were there before me – I had never seen him happier or been more proud of them both.”

Taco Bell is excited to award the 2020 class of Live Mas Scholarship recipients. These Scholars are sensational, and we can’t wait to see how they continue changing the world! Donations from Taco Bell customers through Round Up help fund this important scholarship program for deserving students that gives them access to quality education without sacrificing their financial needs or identity.