Ethel Hayes Destigmatization of Mental Health Scholarship

Funded by
Dr.Terence O. Hayes Sr.
Learn more about the Donor
2 winners, $2,775 each
Application Deadline
Jun 14, 2022
Winners Announced
Jul 13, 2022
Education Level

Despite living in the most prosperous period of history, millions of people are struggling.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and it’s the second leading cause of death for college-age youth. Suicide often stems from past mental trauma and depression caused by bullying, mistreatment, and other challenging events.

Nearly 50 years ago, my mom, Ethel Hayes took her own life. A kind and courageous woman, she struggled to cope with the difficult realities of her inner and outer world.

In the aftermath of her passing, I struggled to cope with the loss. Outside of the tragedy of losing my mom, I faced the reality that mental health was not well understood or openly discussed in the Black community. So I suppressed my feelings, an approach that caused many challenges for me later in life.

To help the millions of people and their loved ones who are suffering, we need to start by bringing the darkness to light. In doing so, it will slowly fade.

In honor of my wonderful mother, the Ethel Hayes Destigmatization of Mental Health Scholarship exists to support more open and honest dialogue about the millions of people who are struggling with mental health and those people who have loved ones who are struggling with mental health.

The scholarship is open to all students who have had challenges with mental health or who have had loved ones who have struggled with mental health.

To apply for the scholarship, you will be asked to write a short essay about how your journey with mental health has impacted your beliefs, relationships, and aspirations.

Mental Health
Selection Criteria:
Essay, Reflection, Ambition, Vision
Essay Topic

How has your experience with mental health shaped your goals, relationships, and understanding of the world.

200–1000 words

Winning Application

Abena Bonsu
Bartlett High SchoolWebster, MA
What truly is a smile-is it an authentic expression of one's feelings or is it a mask one dons at a moment's notice? During sophomore year, my smile was the latter— it only told the story of what I wanted people to see. I smiled through it all: my contradicting feelings of knowing I could do better but being complacent in my situation, my desperation to be above average in school, and anxiousness about my future. Day after day passed as I felt a heaviness upon my back. The weight was compounded by the ingredients of my own identity: female, black, studying at a small school, and constantly battling imposter syndrome. I soon realized I could turn these “blanks” of mine into ammo. For my community, my home, my school, and the beautiful children I teach at my church. Junior year, I decided to seek support and become better. I knew that I could either pick myself up or continue to wallow in my sadness. When others smile at me, I know that I want to genuinely smile back at them rather than putting on a grinning facade. The Health Professions Recruitment & Exposure Program (HPREP) at Harvard Medical School enabled me to learn about the vast disparities in healthcare especially with mental health. It was the first time I was immersed in a sea of peers who shared a wide range of backgrounds and some that echoed with my own: I finally understood that Iack of coming from a privileged family is not a detriment or barrier to my success and that doctors are not the only ones who can work to improve other’s lives. To be surrounded by people who look like me and stem from different backgrounds whilst doing what I dream to do was eye-opening and insightful. This formative experience helped me transform. I become more keenly aware of my surroundings and my own abilities. I wanted to continue to use what I’ve acquired to make a difference. In a world that had been confined to my bedroom since March 2020, I wondered how to contribute my part to the wreckoning about inequalities in healthcare and on the stigmatization of mental health. I settled on starting with what I know: social media and my immediate contacts. I knew my best chance at getting at people's hearts was to start with those who I know. I started sharing more articles on social issues and mental health on Instagram and grew a following. I will continue to spread awareness through those means. The injustices revealed in healthcare, immigration, and basic human rights reminded me exactly why I want to help to build a more just world for all, especially those who are most vulnerable.
Gennaro Tecchia
University of California-DavisRaleigh, NC


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Jun 14, 2022. Winners will be announced on Jul 13, 2022.