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Meet the 2023 Mental Health Scholarship Winners!


2023 Mental Health Changemaker Scholarship Winner


Lor Shoua Lee

(she/her/hers)


"Lor Shoua Lee feels blessed and grateful to be awarded the Letters to Strangers Mental Health Changemaker Scholarship. After losing her oldest sister to cancer, she answered the call in her heart to serve others by way of advocating for mental health, especially in the Asian American community. As a current graduate student, she is not only focused on her studies but, also on making an impact by raising mental health awareness. It is her aspiration to create a space where people of all colors can be reminded of their power and supported through their journey to healing. As someone who has endured the impact of intergenerational trauma, she also recognizes the ancestral power in herself and her community."



2023 Mental Health Warrior Scholarship Winner


Aubri Escalera

(she/her/hers)


"I am honored and so grateful to have this opportunity to not only help maintain my mental health but would also allow me as a cofounder of Trans Power in Diversity would allow me to create a space for empowerment, healing and supporting each other mentally within our own LGBTQIA+ community.


Empowering conversations with one another, healing activities, and camaraderie. A support system is truly what we lack in our communities so we must create a safe space where we can express ourselves free of judgment and stigma. As a Latina Trans Women in the South I’ve battled mental health, but would like to share my formula for how I saved my life. I have been overcoming depression by increasing my self love and surrounding myself with caring individuals and mentors and can now share my dream with others. I’m forever grateful."


2023 Mary Louther Changemaker Prize Recipient

(Mental Health Changemaker Scholarship Runner-Up)


Makayla Dawkins

(she/her/hers)


"Being awarded this scholarship will make a great contribution to my study at my future university. This scholarship will allow me to work less and focus more on my studies. In the past, worked three jobs to fund my education and relied on scholarships to get through school. This scholarship will support me to do more community service and explore my potential in assisting the needs of people. I will be participating in a recovery coach program. Furthermore, receiving scholarships will motivate me to pursue academic excellence. I am continuing my degree in public health as a full-time student next year and this scholarship will help cover the costs associated. Thank you!"



2023 Mary Louther Finalist Prize Recipients

(Mental Health Changemaker Scholarship Finalists)


Joanna Hua

(she/her/hers)


"Joanna Hua is a medical student at the University of Michigan Medical School who has dedicated most of her life to mental health awareness and advocacy. With an undergraduate degree from Cornell University in Government and Inequality Studies and a master's degree from Georgetown University in Human Physiology, Joanna is using her passion for policy and merging it with medical care. Joanna firmly believes, as one of her mentors, Dr. Julie Carmalt says that ALL policy is health policy. Joanna was born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, where she first started her mental health journey by dedicating her Girl Scout Gold Award to raising awareness and connecting others to resources in a community, culture, and time where mental health was not discussed. She then worked with key administration members at Cornell to change how mental healthcare was provided to students by decreasing wait times and removing barriers to access while also pushing for campus cultural overhaul by dismantling the "Suffer Olympics" that people had bought into. After graduating from undergraduate, Joanna served as an Advisory Board Member for the Born This Way Foundation, a nonprofit started by Lady Gaga that focuses on improving youth mental health. Now, she is focused on bringing mental health into every space she is in, from all medical specialties to legislators' offices. In her spare time, she loves music in all forms, reading, and has recently started playing pickleball."


Shreyaa Venkat


"I'm Shreyaa Venkat a 20-year-old junior at Georgetown University majoring in Global Health. I'm also the founder and CEO of the nonprofit NEST4US, which was formed as a philanthropic platform built upon kindness, generosity, and social good. Over the past 13 years, I've contributed 5,000+ hours of service transforming countless lives by utilizing multifaceted approaches to advance social progress worldwide.


I'm so grateful to be a recipient of the Letters to Strangers Mental Health Changemaker Scholarship, in recognition of the work I'm spearheading both on-campus at Georgetown University and off-campus through my nonprofit NEST4US to promote mental health destigmatization, encourage vulnerability, transform outdated narratives, and spread awareness of accessible mental health resources across various mediums."


Meera Varma

(she/her/hers)


"My name is Meera and being a recipient of this award is an honor. I am currently a graduate student at UCLA studying social welfare and public health, and I want to go into the field of mental health policy. This award means so much to me because I will be able to use it to further my educational goals and help pay for my tuition."


Irene Castillón


"I am so thankful to be a recipient of the Mary Louther Finalist Prize! Thank you for helping me not only own the story of my mental health journey but also being part of this journey alongside me, through your scholarship support. I am inspired to continue to advocate for access to mental health services, particularly in the field of education and within first-generation and/or Latinx communities."


Patricia Corona

(she/her/hers)


"I am insanely grateful for the opportunity to be an awardee of this Scholarship because as a first-generation Latinx student and immigrant, there are limited opportunities for me to get support in my ultimate goal of becoming a licensed therapist. This Scholarship will support making that dream come true and for that, I am so thankful because this opportunity represents bringing more diversity to the mental health space."


Amy Liu

(she/her/hers)


"Amy Liu (she/her) is an incoming freshman at Duke University intending to pursue a double major in psychology and statistics. As someone who has witnessed the stigma regarding mental health in her Asian-American community, she is dedicated to promoting cultural competence. She is immensely grateful for Letters to Strangers in supporting and allowing her to continue to pursue her passion of mental health advocacy and research in minority communities."


Abhay Singh Sachal

(he/him/his)


"I am so honoured to have been selected to win the Mary Louther Finalist Prize. As a Sikh person from the beautiful province of British Columbia in Canada, I often speak about how crucial it is to connect to identity and community when thinking of mental health and leadership. Our identities colour our worldviews and thus the actions we take. Critical reflection is thus necessary to ensure both our wellbeing at an individual and the community level. I want to support, create and craft conversations on mental health within communities to help address looming issues like climate change, systemic injustices and despair for the future. I plan on using this money to help me pay for my masters degree where I will be asking questions like how does one's actions and vision build up the identities, communities and societies that they are a part of? And how does one’s actions impact those who don't share their identity(ies) or community(ies)? I hope to build a Canada, and a world, what allows us to centre our individual and community healing."


Edward Sun


"Being a finalist in the Letters to Strangers Mental Health Changemaker Scholarship means being able to continue advocating for youth mental health in Indiana and beyond. Mental health is a topic that I am passionate about. I hope to always create concrete change in all my communities. "


 

ABOUT THE SCHOLARSHIPS


The Changemaker Scholarship Winner and Warrior Scholarship Winner each received $3000 USD for mental health higher education and healthcare treatment costs respectively. The Mary Louther Changemaker Prize Recipient received $800 USD towards mental health higher education, and the Mary Louther Finalist Prize Recipients received $500 USD each towards mental health-related higher education.

The 2023 Scholarship Applicants included entrants from the U.S., Zimbabwe, South Africa, India, Liberia, Nepal, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Vietnam, Nigeria, Taiwan, Pakistan, Malawi, Turkey, Bahamas, Rwanda, Guatemala, and Canada. 74% identified as Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color, while 9% identified as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.


To learn about the Letters to Strangers Mental Health Scholarships, please check out this page here.

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