Manny Montesino, an MIT-bound high school senior, hopes to change the world by doing one thing — saving it.
"I'm really passionate about climate change, because if no one else is thinking that we really need to do something about this, then I need to go and do it myself," he told Taco Bell, which founded its Live Más scholarship program to provide new educational opportunities for young movers and shakers like Montesino. By awarding $1 million in scholarships to 220 selected youth, Taco Bell not only encourages these young innovators' wildest dreams but gives them the tools to go after them.
"Is saving the world easy?" he added. "It's kind of not — but it's a small price to pay to hopefully make a really big difference for everyone." With plans to double major in computer science and environmental engineering, Montesino won't settle for adopting quick fixes to already existing problems. He hopes to lead the charge toward a long-term solution to climate change as a whole.
Raised in Miami, one of the cities most susceptible to climate change's negative effects, this problem — and his desire for a solution — hits particularly close to home for Montesino. His entire family emigrated there from Cuba to give themselves the chance to pursue their dreams for a better life.
Seeing his family's determination to provide him with his best chance to succeed has always inspired Montesino to push himself to unlock his full potential. One memory that's stuck with him was the day he brought a "B" home from school. While his mother acknowledged that was a good grade, she believed he was capable of doing more. "That mentality started to sink in," he said, "and it kind of became my mentality, too … I could put more effort into it and take it further."
Now, Montesino’s success has made all his and family's sacrifices worth it.
Besides being accepted into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Montesino will be able to fund his education with a Live Más scholarship from Taco Bell. By providing financial assistance to promising, young innovators and creators, the scholarship program helps them achieve their dreams — the bigger, the better.
"I couldn't believe it when I won. No one had ever told me they believed in my dreams," he told the company. "So to hear such a huge group of people say it was out of this world."