Riya Ramkrishnan - Serving Others

Riya Ramkrishnan


Serving Others

Nominated by

Greg Damron

Presented by

Grace Villafuerte, Merit Awards Committee


Riya Ramakrishnan is a Santa Rosa native passionate about bringing awareness about the dangers of nicotine and tobacco use among youth. At 16 years old, she has already worked tirelessly advocating for policy change at the governmental level, directing outreach efforts, and educating youth and adults about the risks of tobacco use. Riya has spoken at council meetings promoting ordinances regarding tobacco use prevention, and has received criticism and challenges by adults in the tobacco industry.

In middle school, Riya learned of the prevalence of tobacco use and vaping when observing its use by other students. She credits her friends with informing her about the adverse effects of vaping/tobacco use. She believes in allowing youth to learn about tobacco's impact and discussing how some children are drawn into using tobacco. Riya has provided education and relevant resources to teens. She candidly discusses how the tobacco industry targets youth, with flavored e-cigarettes and lower-income neighborhoods and people of color, through advertising and product promotion.

Riya is a member of the Tobacco-Free Sonoma County Community Coalition, the California Youth Advocacy Network (CYAN), the Kaiser Teen Advisory Council, and is a research director for the nationwide organization Students Against Nicotine. Riya's commitment to her community's health extends to her work as president of her school's Amnesty International Club, and her pursuit of creating a National Alliance on Mental Illness chapter at her high school, Maria Carrillo. She emphasizes the importance of mental health resource availability for youth. 

Riya's parents encourage her work. She states they are the most supportive people in her life as they patiently chauffeur her to many activities. In addition to her passion for community health, Riya enjoys high school and is an avid tennis player.

Photos of Recipient in Action

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Photos of Awards Ceremony

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