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Elijah's Helping Hand Scholarship Award

Funded by
1 winner$500
Next Application Deadline
May 12, 2024
Next Winners Announced
Jun 12, 2024
Education Level
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
High school senior, undergraduate, or graduate student

Life brings about challenges, ranging from small to large. 

Every student has had their own personal journey, with ups and downs, that has led them to make the choices they have in school, in their relationships, and in their everyday lives. Challenges are part of the journey, and they illuminate perseverance. Elijah’s Helping Hand Scholarship Award honors the memory of a non-binary student who lost their life to suicide. The hope is to help a student as they persevere through their own personal battles.

High school seniors, undergraduate, and graduate students are eligible to apply. In your application, write about how mental health, suicide, or LGBTQIA+ experiences have impacted you.

Selection Criteria:
Essay, Perseverance, Impact
Published July 12, 2023
Essay Topic

Describe how you have been impacted by one of the following: mental health, suicide, or LGBTQIA+ experiences.

400–600 words

Winning Application

Theodora Dini
Cabrini UniversityPHILADELPHIA, PA
If I could tell 13-year-old, closeted Theo, that we are alive and thriving in dental school, and that we're out and proud, they would not believe me. Even 19-year-old Theo, struggling to get through college during a pandemic, would not believe that we are in dental school. I first started to question my sexuality around the end of middle school; I tried to write off this crush I had on my friend as a "friend crush", but once I got to high school, I couldn't deny it anymore. When I was a sophomore in high school, I tentatively came out to my friends over text as bisexual, and they were very supportive. Over the next few years, I started coming out to more and more people, except for my family, who I knew wouldn't be supportive. During my freshman year of college, I started dating my first girlfriend. I am so grateful that I was in this relationship; I learned so much about myself, who I was, and what I wanted out of my life. I came out as a lesbian when I was a sophomore in college, and also came out as non-binary. Figuring out my identity was something absolutely essential to my well-being. As wonderful as being myself was, it was made more difficult by some of the people in my life. I was not out to my parents; the only people in my family that I had come out to at this point were my sister, younger cousin, and one of my aunts. I went through an incredibly tough couple of months during my sophomore year of college, and this culminated in a mental health crisis. In March of 2021, I tried to take my own life. It was a scary time, and I don't like to think about it too much, but it was an alarming time for me and my girlfriend at the time. I never told anyone about it except my close friends and my girlfriend; I knew that the backlash I'd receive from my family members would only harm me more. I started therapy after this experience, and my queer therapist was one of the people who saved my life. I owe him so much, and I have never been more grateful for a human being. Things seemed to be getting better, but in the fall of my junior year of college, I was outed to my parents. The 44-minute phone call with my dad, after my parents learned this information, drained everything out of me, and I felt physically ill for weeks on end. Thank god for my friends, my therapist, and my girlfriend at the time, because without them, I would not have made it out of that situation alive. I experienced some of the worst verbal and emotional harassment during that year of college; I even experienced my first breakup. But I made it out alive, and now, as I'm writing this, I can confidently say that I have never been prouder of myself. Being a lesbian and being non-binary sometimes makes me feel like I'm an outsider; like there's no place I belong. But with the support of my friends, I have been able to live authentically in a way that makes me so happy. I wish that 13-year-old Theo could see me now; they would be so incredibly proud of me. I hope they know I'm proud of them too.
Anna Gullo
Fordham UniversityFredonia, NY
As a lesbian studying school psychology, mental health, and LGBTQIA+ experiences are intertwined aspects of my personal and professional life. I have been impacted by both in profound ways, and they have influenced my aspirations and career goals. Growing up in a small town, I felt like I was the only one struggling with my sexuality. I didn't know many other people who were openly LGBTQIA+, and I was constantly afraid of being judged and rejected by my peers and community. I tried to suppress my feelings and blend in, but it took a toll on my mental health. I felt isolated, anxious, and depressed. I didn't have anyone to talk to about my struggles, and I didn't even know how to articulate what I was feeling. It wasn't until I went to college that I started to explore my sexuality and find a supportive community. I came out to my friends and family, and although it wasn't always easy, I felt a sense of relief and freedom. However, my mental health struggles persisted, and I realized that being LGBTQIA+ comes with unique challenges that can exacerbate mental health issues. Discrimination, stigma, and lack of support can lead to feelings of shame, self-doubt, and anxiety. I also learned that LGBTQIA+ youth are more likely to experience depression, suicidal ideation, and substance abuse than their heterosexual peers. Fortunately, I was able to access mental health support in my adulthood. Therapy, medication, and self-care practices have helped me manage my anxiety and depression and improve my overall well-being. However, I know that not everyone has the same access to resources and support. In particular, LGBTQIA+ youth in rural areas and communities of color face significant barriers to accessing mental health services. They may not have a safe space to express their identity or a provider who understands their experiences. As a school psychologist, I want to provide extensive support and community to the LGBTQIA+ population. I want to create a safe and inclusive environment where students can feel seen and valued for who they are. I want to advocate for policies and practices that promote equity and reduce discrimination. And I want to provide individualized and culturally responsive services to students who may be struggling with mental health issues. I believe that mental health and LGBTQIA+ advocacy go hand in hand. By addressing the unique needs of LGBTQIA+ youth, we can promote positive mental health outcomes and foster a more accepting and compassionate society. I am committed to this work and inspired by the resilience and courage of the LGBTQIA+ community. In conclusion, my experience as a lesbian and my struggles with mental health have shaped my perspective and aspirations. I am grateful for the support and community I have found and determined to provide the same for others. As a school psychologist, I hope to be an advocate for LGBTQIA+ youth and to help them thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is May 12, 2024. Winners will be announced on Jun 12, 2024.

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