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Meet the 2024 Mental Health Scholarship Winners!




We're thrilled to announce the incredible roster of scholarship winners in our 6th year of scholarships, each of whom carries with them tremendous power, spirit, and wisdom. We feel honored to support them on their journeys as mental health advocates for the self and community, and can't wait to see this global cohort make waves no matter where they go from here! With such an impressive application pool, we also offered numerous other resources to all applicants as recognition of their incredible fight, including but not limited to free books and career opportunities.


Now, read on to find out more about this groundbreaking cohort of awardees in their own words!


2024 Mental Health Changemaker Scholarship Winner


Joel Mordi

Nigeria

(he/him/they/them)


"Receiving this award is a testament that (my) vulnerability is indeed power, this is more than an award, it is a painstaking love letter to self, a promise to not only my strange self, but to everyone everywhere going through moments of despair/turmoil and uncertainty, yes, we are our lived experiences: but sometimes lines blur between (in)validated, (un)seen and (un)heard inner/outward voice(s) calling for help, but we are nonetheless; so much more than trauma (albeit my traumatic scars are all but a collection/badge of honour: a testament for walking my/our unique, yet; collective criss-crossing path(s) in the wickedly uncertain yet beautiful tapestry of “life”).


Even 'Broken crayons,' they say, 'still color.'"



2024 Mental Health Warrior Scholarship Winner


Vaishnavi Rana

India

(she/hers)


"It’s Vaishnavi from India. I am deeply grateful for being chosen for the Warrior scholarship this year. This scholarship will enable me to maintain a focus on my mental well-being, which is essential for me to achieve my aspirations of consistently supporting my mother, excelling in my career, and dedicating myself to research and advocacy in the mental health field.”


2024 Mary Louther Changemaker Prize Recipient

(Mental Health Changemaker Scholarship Runner-Up)


Reuben Reeves

Liberia

(he/him)


"Being a runner-up for the L2S Changemaker scholarship motivates me to return to school after years dedicated to my organization. This recognition inspires me to pursue further education while continuing my impactful work."



2024 Mary Louther Finalist Prize Recipients

(Mental Health Changemaker Scholarship Finalists)


Ahmed Bakr Younis

Egypt


"Being an awardee of Letters to Strangers Mental Health Changemaker Scholarship means the world to me. It signifies a recognition of my passion for mental health awareness and my dedication to educating youth about mental well-being. This scholarship is not just a financial support; it is a validation of my commitment to making a positive impact on mental health education and advocacy. It empowers me to continue my journey of raising awareness, breaking stigmas, and promoting mental wellness in stigmatized communities, especially in the Arab World. This award inspires me to push boundaries, think innovatively, and strive for excellence in all my endeavors related to mental health. I am immensely grateful for this opportunity and excited about the potential it holds for furthering my goals in mental health advocacy.”


Aliza Lopez

United States

(she/her)


"My name is Aliza, and I’m a student at the University of Rochester majoring in Neuroscience and Health, Behavior, and Society — with an aim to continue my community-level efforts and social impact work while being a neurosurgeon. Coupled with the power of altruism, I take an interdisciplinary approach to my work by tackling the many determinants of health (e.g. clinical, social, cultural) as the cornerstone of my projects. As an advocate for mental health awareness, health equity, and DEI in the healthcare system, I hope to combat the idea of a “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to health and normalize these conversations to reach a greater level of empathy and understanding between young folks. With youth at the forefront of advocacy, I believe it’s important to appropriately invest in their futures, and receiving this reward is a testament to how young people like myself are being supported and empowered.”


Alyssa Vassel

United States


"My name is Alyssa Vassel, and I am a high school senior from the southern U.S. I am so honored to receive this award as someone trying to make a difference in the mental health field. Growing up, I dealt with anxiety and depression silently for years because I felt like I was alone. I now want to commit the rest of my life to helping others like me. Everyone deserves to exist in a space of acceptance, empathy, support, and no stigma. As someone from a low-income family, this scholarship means even more to me because I can continue my education without a large financial burden. I can't wait to see what I can do in the future as a psychiatrist and advocate with the help of this scholarship, and I am immeasurably grateful!”


Mohammad Shedeed

United States

(he/him)


"It is an honor to have won this scholarship. I would like to thank the Letters to Strangers Organization for those who are working against the mental health epidemic to advocate and create change to help those with mental health struggles/disabilities. I came from a background where mental health is heavily stigmatized and I was fortunate to come across a class called Applied Positive Psychology which opened my mind up to the importance of mental health and education about it. This money will support me in my studies of neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh to understand the complexity of the brain and how it contributes to mental health disorders. My ultimate aspiration is to open up my own clinic focused on preventative and healing methods utilizing holistic measures rather than focusing solely on medications.”


Nicole Soong

Hong Kong, United States

(she/her/hers)


"Hello, my name is Nicole Soong. Nicole hailed from Hong Kong and moved to California at the age of 12. Being an immigrant was challenging, but she persevered through the language barrier and cultural differences and landed herself at the University of California, San Diego. While there, she found her passion for community service and building collaborative relationships with those who are in need of support. As such, she was inspired to pursue a professional career in serving marginalized and underserved populations, which led to the decision to continue her education at UC Berkeley's Masters of Social Welfare Program. Therefore being an awardee of the Letters to Strangers Mental Health Changemaker Scholarship is significant to her as her passion aligned with the mission of L2S, in which she strives to bridge the service gaps and enhance health equity among minority population, and this scholarship would support her passion in embarking on her journey of becoming a licensed social worker who could provide high-quality services to the community."


Rick Yang

United States


"To me, this award is the culmination of various efforts of people–both personally and professionally– who supported me along the way. This award shows how my advocacy is impactful and aligns with Letters to Strangers' mission of destigmatizing mental illness and increasing access to mental health care. I’ve been inspired by Letters to Strangers' past recipients of this award, and joining them to receive this honor really validates the work I’ve done and the impact it’s had. This only motivates me to continue my work further with even more vigor."


Sara Iliyana Lam

United States

(she/they)


"I'm Sara Lam, and I am ecstatic to receive this scholarship! As a proud advocate for mental health equity and empowerment, being awarded the Mental Health Changemaker Scholarship holds profound significance for me. With a commitment to destigmatizing mental health issues and promoting access to culturally responsive care, this scholarship reaffirms my dedication to fostering positive change in our communities, especially at the intersection of Southeast Asian and queer identities. I am dedicated to amplifying voices, advocating for more resources, and champion initiatives that prioritize effective mental wellness for all. With gratitude and determination, I embrace this honor as a catalyst for continuing my journey in advocating for and researching mental health in marginalized communities, using my future studies to uplift and support those in need."


Tanzeel Rashid

Bangladesh


"Being chosen for the Mary Louther Finalist Prize is a profound acknowledgment of my dedication, particularly in advocating for mental health awareness. This honor also validates my commitment to mental health advocacy. It underscores the importance of raising awareness and promoting positive mental well-being. With this recognition, I am further inspired to continue my advocacy efforts and make a meaningful impact in this crucial area."


 

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. Additional prize winners were offered scholarships toward counseling and other services offered by our partners at Anise Health.


The 2024 Scholarship Applicants included entrants from the U.S., Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Peru, Philippines, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Syria, Uganda, U.K., Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. 89.6% identified as Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color, while 16% 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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