For DonorsFor Applicants

Brian J Boley Memorial Scholarship

Funded by
1 winner$500
Application Deadline
Oct 5, 2024
Winners Announced
Nov 5, 2024
Education Level
High School
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Desired Career Field:
In Mental Health Field
Education Level:
High school senior, undergraduate student

The Brian J. Boley Memorial Scholarship commemorates a cherished son whose journey ended tragically at 21 due to mental illness and the ensuing struggle with addiction. Recognizing the intricate link between mental health and substance abuse—where nearly 50% of those with severe mental disorders also face addiction challenges—this scholarship aspires to cultivate a new wave of mental health professionals. These future experts will be equipped to support individuals battling these interwoven issues.

High school seniors and college undergraduates aspiring to specialize in mental health are invited to apply. This scholarship not only honors Brian's memory but also supports financially-needy students dedicated to transforming the mental health landscape.

Applicants are encouraged to share their motivation for choosing a mental health career and their vision for effecting positive change in a system that, regrettably, failed to support Brian adequately. Your insights on how to improve and humanize mental health care are valuable to Brian's friends and family and the communities you will serve.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published June 11, 2024
Essay Topic

Why are you pursuing a degree in the mental health field and how you will try to make a difference in the lives of others?

400–600 words

Winning Application

Aidan Toombs
Mansfield Lake Ridge High SchoolMansfield, TX
Throughout my life, I have struggled with autism, ADHD, unspecified mood disorder, depression, and anxiety. Coming to high school, I struggled to voice my growing emotional concerns to my doctors and loved ones. I became increasingly more dissociated from my emotions and the people around me, and worried that if I felt nothing for anything or anyone I would unwittingly harm people I was close to. Additionally, if my circumstances were left unaddressed how could I be expected to find motivation for long-term goals such as college and a career? However, despite my best efforts, no one understood what i was trying to say. The experience of going unheard by my support system and psychiatrist led me to begin self-medicating as early as 9th grade. Throughout 9th grade, I experimented with substances including marijuana, LSD, and mushrooms. Initially, I saw these substances as "a way to have fun." However, by 10th and 11th grade I began to hear myself saying things like "I COULD stop if I really wanted to, but I just don't want to right now. What's the point?" while sitting across from my 'friends' while on a heavy dose of mushrooms. Over time, I began to realize that while I had no physical addiction to the drugs, I instead developed an emotional dependency. There was no way to have fun with friends if there wasn't at least one joint to pass around. In the end, the dull emotional state I sought to avoid was only being worsened by my substance abuse. By 11th grade, I began to despair over my situation. I began to tell myself “I’ll be clean now,” only to then decide to “have fun one more time.” This sent me tumbling back into usage within weeks time and time again. I frequently got high and immediately regretted it. Trip anxiety tormented me. Every time I smoked, I spent long hours discussing how much I didn't want to do drugs anymore. Yet within weeks I would be right back at it. I cannot pinpoint any particular moment where I finally set things right with myself. It was like I woke up one day and rather than constantly and actively resisting a compulsion, I simply had no DESIRE to do drugs. I can't imagine where I would be right now without that moment. As I'm writing this I have been drug-free for 1 year and 2 months. However, this isn’t a cookie-cutter happy ending. I still struggle with my mental health. The same issues I faced in freshman year plague me to this day. Every waking moment feels like a constant active effort just to exist and yet I still don't turn to drugs. When I wake up feeling like there's no reason to leave my bed, or when that voice in my mind whispers “Just one hit wouldn't hurt,” I strive to remember one simple fact. As a child psychiatrist, working 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, means 48 one-hour sessions a week. That comes out to 192 opportunities a month for a kid who's struggling to talk to someone who understands what they're going through just a little bit more than anyone else they've ever talked to. That's 192 chances for me to help someone in need. That is where I’ve found my motivation. I hope to pursue pre-medicine or psychology after graduation, with my end goal to be a psychiatrist specializing in children and adolescents. This scholarship would greatly support me in my endeavors to make a difference in the lives of those who are struggling with mental illness or addiction.
Courtney Rife
Nightingale CollegeMODESTO, CA
Tali Rauner
White Plains High SchoolWhite Plains, NY
Kasey Robertson
Gonzaga UniversityTucson, AZ
My life is calling. Even with the pain endured, I continue to move forward. I have learned to love the good in life, to laugh and to find freedom in the light. Before high school, I had no personal experiences with mental health issues. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I began to feel isolated and became withdrawn. This was not a feeling that I had been accustomed to. I was always an outgoing and very social person. It was clear to me that something was very different but I was still unsure of the severity. Suddenly, school became a challenge for me and lack of motivation became an issue. My focus was nearly impossible for academics when previously I had been a strong student with all A’s. I am fortunate to have involved parents and they quickly realized that something was wrong. My mental health journey began here, when we sought assistance from a society with a very broken system. Things progressed, as we waited months to be seen by medical professionals. Finally, I was evaluated by a neuropsychologist and given the diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety. I began therapy sessions and eventually met with a psychiatrist so that I could begin taking medication. There were times when I felt like nothing mattered and I thought those who loved me would be better off without me. Through counseling with my therapist, along with hard work, I’ve learned that I can be strong enough to push through these dark, challenging times. No one deserves to feel that kind of pain. I believe that everyone has a purpose on this Earth and we are here for a reason. I don’t want anyone to ever feel as if they aren’t enough or that there is no reason to fight and push forward. My goal for the future is to teach people that they are not defined solely by the darkness in their lives. We are so much more! In the future, I hope to contribute to positive changes in this healthcare system, as well as be someone who people can trust, while helping them to find hope in their journey. As I began to search out college and career choices, it became clear to me that this experience guided me to determine my future aspirations. I now know that I would like to major in psychology. There is a need for change. There cannot be a divide between the mind and the body. If there is a lack of education and awareness, there will always be misperceptions about mental health. Programs and policies need to place mental health as a priority in all communities. Care could be available in schools at a young age, not just in doctors’ offices. Pathways to help need to be easily identified and accessible to all. Mental health is a battle that no one should have to face alone. I want the opportunity to guide people to see the beauty in life again. I want them to know that the pain and the darkness don’t last forever. My goal is to offer them a safe place to open up about their problems and to assist them to overcome these battles in life. I truly believe that helping people is what I am meant to do. Our time here on Earth is so valuable and everyone deserves to find happiness. My role will be to teach them how to navigate through the turmoil and to find the light that shines within themselves.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Oct 5, 2024. Winners will be announced on Nov 5, 2024.