When Abraham Gutierrez walked across the stage at Georgia Perimeter College’s commencement May 3, he literally left half of himself behind.
Gutierrez had lost 150 pounds while attending GPC as a DeKalb Early College Academy student. DECA is a partnership between DeKalb County Schools and Georgia Perimeter that allows students to earn a high school diploma and an associate degree at the same time.
“I have been impressed with Abraham’s determination in both his academics and personal life. Not only is he graduating with his associate’s two weeks before he receives his high school diploma, but also he engaged with the material he was exposed to,” says Kathryn Hall, DECA program coordinator. “When he took an environmental science class, he would talk to me about the environmental impacts of being a meat eater versus a vegetarian. He has demonstrated to me that he will be a lifelong learner.”
Gutierrez knew he wanted to lose weight but needed a plan that would not interfere with his school schedule. He adopted a raw vegan diet that eliminated all processed foods, meat and dairy. Also, he added moderate exercise to his daily routine. It wasn’t long before he saw progress.
“I tried different diets in the past, but none of them worked,” he says. “Then I started eating all raw food. It was hard, but I saw the results right away. My mother would call Mexico and brag about my weight loss. Everybody was excited for me.”
Gutierrez’s newfound lifestyle motivated his overweight parents and brother to change their eating habits, too. “My whole family has lost weight and even changed the way they cook,” he says.
According to Gutierrez, becoming a vegan has helped him decide what he wants to do in the future. He plans to study dietetics at Georgia State University, become a registered dietician and open a raw vegan restaurant. Eventually, he hopes to open a gym and a raw vegan bakery.
“The diet changed my life because it helped me develop a passion to help other people gain knowledge about health,” he says. “I want more than anything to help others get as excited as I am about life, health and diet.”