UNION, NJ – Earlier this week, a Union High School junior learned that she won a $10,000 scholarship award from a Live Mas! Taco Bell contest.

Shanel Calle said she entered the Live Mas! Taco Bell contest in February because of encouragement from her Language Arts teacher, Sandra Mangarella.  “My teacher encouraged us to enter,” said Calle.  She and her twin sister, Erika, both entered the contest.  “She is so excited for us,” said Calle of Mangarella, “she gives me motivation.”

Students who entered the contest created a two-minute video explaining their passion.  Shanel said she is passionate about pursuing a future career in science.  She hopes to help people with incurable diseases.  “This money will be an asset in helping me achieve my dream.”

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Calle said the video enabled her to explain what she did outside of school.  “I’ve always loved science,” she said.  Last summer she attended a research program at Kean University.  She spends Thursday afternoons at Kean, where she continues the research she performed over the summer.  She plans to major in biochemistry in college.  “I always knew I wanted to be a research scientist,” sald Calle in her video, “developing potential cures for debilitating diseases.”

In the video, Calle said she thought her dreams were a long-shot.  She is the third of four daughters.  Her parents immigrated to the United States from Ecuador in their teens.  “My parents arrived with little financial support, but with hard work and determination, they achieved the life they have today.  They have taught me the value of hard work and education.”

Calle has an Instagram page [@conquer.glioblastoma] to help spread awareness of Glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer.  “My Instagram page helped me associate real people to the research I performed.”

Calle was one of 23 scholarship awardees from New Jersey.  The mission of the Taco Bell Foundation is to help young people explore their career passions – with scholarships, experiences and community support.