Frito-Lay awards four outstanding students with first-ever Community Builder Scholarship

Frito-Lay® has announced it awarded $25,000 to four scholarship recipients, each actively leading and uplifting their local communities and contributing to a brighter future. The Frito-Lay Community Builder Scholarship serves to help each student with their higher-education goals and education-related expenses.

To select the recipients, a diverse group of employees across the Frito-Lay organization – including frontline workers, DEI leaders and executives – reviewed applications from 500 students in the U.S. Each employee offered a unique perspective based on their tenure and experience. They also demonstrated a commitment to pep+ (PepsiCo Positive), a strategic transformation focused on winning with purpose and giving back to the communities that Frito-Lay and parent company PepsiCo serve. Education creates multiple pathways to meaningful opportunities and remains key in fueling PepsiCo’s long-term growth.

“As a first-generation college student, I also received a life-changing scholarship while pursuing my degree. I know the impact this scholarship will make on these students, who are each pioneering change through their own passions,” said judge and Frito-Lay North America DEI HR Manager Jesus Gutierrez. “Each winner has had their own unique path to finding their purpose through community, education and their personal backgrounds. Based on my own lived and professional experience, I’ve seen the value diverse thinking and backgrounds can bring to leadership.” 

The recipients were:

  • Mehar BhasinLakeville, Connecticut
    Mehar is passionate about STEM and after noticing widespread gender and race disparities in the field, she co-founded the non-profit STEAM Bloom. The organization has provided over 2,000 students free access to computer science resources. She will be a sophomore at Dartmouth College in the fall.

    According to Mehar, “To me, community conveys a sense of belongingness, togetherness and collective growth. I truly enjoy contributing to their success, uplifting them, serving them, leading them and trying to make an impact.”
  • Jaelyn HardawaySan Antonio, Texas
    Jaelyn served on the Mayor of San Antonio’s Youth Climate Council and is the Co-Founder of the First Antonian branch of Cancer Kids First. She recently organized and led an initiative to deliver personalized care packages to pediatric patients locally and internationally. Graduating from high school in 2024, Jaelyn is currently deciding where she’ll attend college next year.

    According to Jaelyn, “Community signifies a sense of belonging, support and shared identity among individuals who come together around common interests, values, or goals, fostering connection, collaboration and mutual aid.”
  • Caleb OhGambrills, Maryland
    Caleb co-founded the non-profit Kid Changemakers while in elementary school. He’s raised thousands of dollars to help support food insecurity initiatives and at-risk populations, such as foster children and the homeless. He also successfully lobbied state senators to remove the tax on baby diapers, collectively saving families millions of dollars. He will be a Sophomore at Harvard University in the fall.

    According to Caleb, “Volunteering has affirmed my belief that all kids can make a difference in an adult world, no matter their circumstances.”
  • Ramon PerezNew Rochelle, New York
    Ramon is currently a Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, in addition to attending college and volunteering with the Boys & Girls Club and Big Brothers, Big Sisters. He enlisted in 2019 and now oversees 120 Marines. He first started volunteering with his local Boys & Girls Club in high school and found he could make a big impact on his community through mentorship. He will be a senior at Baruch College in the fall.

    According to Ramon, “I hope to continue to impact my community and make it a better place for everyone; I want New Rochelle to be united.”

As an organization with 60,000 dedicated employees, Frito-Lay understands the importance of preparing the next generation and is proud to consistently invest in education and career training, seeking to break systemic barriers and provide equitable opportunities for all to thrive. Since 2022, Frito-Lay has provided $600,000 in scholarship funds to students across the country.

“It was inspiring to learn more about each of these change-makers, plus the challenges they’ve overcome fueled by grit and determination,” said judge and Lay’s Global marketing director Tionna Cunningham. “As a student with a tough path to college, this was an opportunity to pay it forward in honor of the people and financial resources that supported me.”

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