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Ethel Hayes Destigmatization of Mental Health Scholarship

Funded by
2 winners, $3,650 each
Application Deadline
Jul 5, 2024
Winners Announced
Aug 5, 2024
Education Level
Recent scholarship winners

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.

Selection Criteria:
Essay, Reflection, Ambition, Vision
Published July 25, 2023
Essay Topic

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

200–1000 words

Winners and Finalists

July 2023

Nora Obikwelu
Adam Simmons
Ahvianna Elysse
Christian Herbster
Ashley Bejar
Isabella Ortendahl
Isabelle Selko
Taylor Maiers
Gabby Davis
Elias Tchantchampo
Celeste Irwin
Catherine Derival
Angel Zheng
Christopher Lippincott
Janae Williams
Mayci Herbert
Waverly Borje
Audrey Lawless-Young
Amen Dilawar
Cierra Reed
Jasmin Jariwala
Jack Holcomb
Paige Larrea

July 2022

Domenic Angelino
Amanda Bonesteel
Shahir Mohsenyan
Abigail Henderson
Jess Gascon
Garrett Williams
Abbey Boggs
Adrian Oliver
Kaylee Holmes
Aaron Thompson
Mikayla Riggins
Aditi Sengupta
Mia Kim
Emma Haupt
Temiloluwa Ogunade
Dude Manville
Justin Wade
Dustin Harwell
Katherine Kirkholder
Angelique Holland
To'nyia Richardson
Angela Ward
Roman Clark
Selah Shackelford
Mina Gayed
Sarah Smith
DJ Avila Mathers
Kayla Santiago
Takudzwa Katuruza
Raegen Galina

July 2021

Allison Turner
Nicholas Fiegel
Kristi Amstutz
Alexia Quintero
Huong Le
Rachel Bean
Laci McCabe
Melody Wofford
Carly Rothstein
Kadie Galewaler
Alyssa Habner
Anne Perrin
Jessica Miller
Cassie Blazejeski
Claire Yochum
Miranda Hall
Kristal Alston
Rachel stephens
Leigha Kosakowski
Makinzie Miranda
Cherilyn Stanneart
Kayla Johns
Andres Stidger
Shannon Secco Enzenauer

Winning Application

Blessing Johnson
University of Cincinnati-Main CampusCanal Winchester, OH
Bryton Conley
University of HoustonHouston, TX
Sarah Porter
Wichita State UniversityAndover, KS
Have you ever been kicked out of your house simply because you stood up for yourself? Have you ever been punched in the face because you told your mom that she was mistreating you? Have you ever been told that you would not amount to anything in your life? Have you ever experienced severe mental problems because of what your mom has said about you and your life? I have. I have experienced every single one of these things, and more that are too painful to talk about. Life can be hard when you are being faced with adversity, I would know, I went through it...a lot. I walked through life thinking I would never be loved, never be accepted, and never be smart. I was failing classes at school, yelling at my siblings, and even punishing myself. Life became a misery. I hated myself, I hated my life, I could hardly get through the day without crying. I had no one. No one to talk to, no one to stand by my side, no one to love. However, I had no one because I did not want anyone. My mom told me that people will bring you down and hurt you more than anything. So, I was scared; I was scared of reaching out. I went through this struggle alone for many years. Then, my dad and step mom took me to church and I was able to connect with God in a way that I never had before. I had always been a christain growing up, but I never connected to the messages the preacher was saying. The preacher was talking about how you are good enough for God. He explained that God will be there for you and I felt as if he was talking to me. Everything just came crashing down, like the walls of Jericho. I told my dad everything that was happening, I admitted my life journey, yet he was so understanding and supportive of my future. My mom would never have reacted like that, I would have been kicked out of the house for talking the way I did, yet my dad didn’t. My dad spoke the truth and encouraged me, and together, my dad, step mom, and I worked to get through everything. After talking to my dad for the first time, it was easier to stand up to my mother and fight for my well-being. Now, two years later, I am disconnected from my biological mom. I have literally no contact with her. No phone calls. No visits, she does not even pay child support. It took a lot of custody battles, fights over email and the phone, and fear of abuse, but it was worth it for my health! My dad took full custody over me, and we moved to a new state. I have never felt more relief in my life. I have continued to grow in my faith, and I am making stronger relationships with my dad and step mom. I love my life now. Yes, it took a long time. Yes, I still deal with all of the hardships now, but I have never felt so happy in my life. In fact, I am excelling in school, taking college courses along with AP courses. I will graduate high school with my associates degree and one step further into my college career! I am very happy and could not have asked for a better dad and step mom. Hard work pays off when you are focused on the right things. I think that it is important for us to have someone in our life that is encouraging and does nothing but build us up. However, they also may struggle with things as well. Especially as a parent. My parents have six kids to look after and they need as much support as I do. Therefore, I should also be there for my parents. Just like anyone else, if they fill your bucket up, they need someone else to fill their bucket up. I know that having someone there to support me through this, makes life a lot more comfortable. Finally, I learned so many valuable life lessons along the way that have changed my life forever. First, talk it out, no matter what the other person might say, always reach to someone that you trust. Second, do not let anyone tell you that you can not do something, you most certainly can achieve anything! Lastly, have faith that God has a plan for you, put your whole trust in him and he will reward you with amazing things! I have a lot of education ahead of me as I want to go to medical school, so I hope that my dad and step mom's encouragement can help me pursue my dreams.
Gennaro Tecchia
University of California-DavisRaleigh, NC
Abena Bonsu
Quinsigamond Community CollegeWebster, 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.
romeo gulefua
Grand Canyon UniversityCincinnati, OH
As a child, my passion was to be a teacher. I had a profound desire to help my friends discover new methods to learn and acquire knowledge. However, I struggled with a speech impediment and was unable to articulate certain sounds and pronounce certain syllables. This developed a deep-seated insecurity within my young mind and led me to believe I could not achieve my dream. I began to shy away from talking to people, and I decided to focus on studies that required little to no speaking. On the other hand, I was also inspired by my father who is a civil engineer. I came to the conclusion as a child, that if I could not speak fluently enough to become a teacher, I could use my intellect and become an outstanding engineer in construction just like my father. With this in mind, I naturally gravitated towards mathematics and high school. In 2009 I moved to Ukraine to further my studies and completed a bachelor's in construction science as well as a master's of science in construction management. At this point I was able to speak four languages fluently: French, English, Russian, and Lingala. With time I had developed strong communication and interpersonal skills, with the ability to interact and connect with people of various backgrounds and my childhood struggles had become only a distant memory. I had worked on different projects as a civil engineer, of note I worked for “Gauff Ingenieur” a construction company based in Congo where I worked under the mentorship of my father. Here in the states, I deviated from my construction training and worked for Mitsubishi Electric. Over time I began to realize that I did not have a burning desire to work as an engineer. It slowly dawned on me that the profession did not interest me; it was my perception of the profession that had caught my fancy. Luckily, by then I had developed a good rapport with the majority of my colleagues and my reputation preceded me. My coworkers would come to me for advice, suggestions, and counsel on a variety of issues such as trouble with their children, marriage issues, or an addiction they were dealing with. I began focusing my personal studies on counseling, psychology, and behavior analysis, this further piqued my interest. In August 2019, I was ordained as the Lead Pastor of Blueprint Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. In a way, my childhood dream of becoming a teacher had been accomplished was. It was another mind-blowing experience to get to realize that as a pastor that most issues people deal with were more psychological than spiritual. Serving as a pastor helped me admire and value the art of counseling, psychology, and behavior analysis. The church gave me the opportunity to get exposure to more detailed and deep-oriented conversations with different people in my community that needed someone to talk to. I found that this was what gave me a sense of purpose, passion, and fulfillment. My goal since then became to acquire the necessary knowledge in order to be fully equipped and able to serve my community. In personal studies, I found that what excites me the most about psychoanalysis is the investigations, dissections, and understanding of problems that is around me in the world. I came to the conclusion that proper psychology courses would equip me in developing adequate knowledge on psychopathology, personality, and behavior analysis. I'm currently enrolled for a master's degree in clinical mental health and counseling to be able to serve my state in the future skillfully and effectively.
Casen Lucas
West Texas A & M UniversityWolfforth, TX
Amari Phillips
Paul Laurence Dunbar High SchoolDayton, OH
Amari Phillips Ethel Hayes Scholarship Essay 12 April 2022 I should receive this scholarship because I know I will succeed and bring a lot to the table. What I will become when I finally graduate high school is a versatile money maker. Including being a psychologist and athletic trainer after I attend college fully. To start, I’ve alway wanted to be a psychologist ever since I was six years old. After all the terrible trauma I went through and the detrimental experiences throughout my life, I decided I want to help people. It feels as though I need to help people now. I feel this way because I needed someone to talk to as a child and I had no one. A child should not be able to feel depression or know that emotion until he or she is older. In addition to this, there are those who just need help mentally. I would like to make them know that they are okay. That they are not alone. Growing up, unfortunately, All I really had were my siblings. My mother didn’t want me around my father so he wasn’t in the picture for fourteen years. The last time I saw him before high school was at the age of 6 years old. My stepfather went on a crazed fest of anger and beat my father to a pulp, soon beating him in the head with a pistol and breaking his arm out his sochet. My mother, when we did live with her, was usually gone at work or studying, and doing homework for what she majored in-in college. She graduated, unsatisfied with the degree she received. Unsatisfied because of stress, and pain- oh the unspoken straining pain… if not stress and pain, she would’ve had time to work harder, do better, and get the degree she really wanted. Soon after being evicted, we began moving from place to place in this small beautiful city. Although, everytime we moved, my mother would seem to fade more and more away. She began becoming more and more stressed and suffocated in her work. She was depressed. A single mother with four growing kids and no one to help her. Years passed and she met the best thing that happened to her. Yet she didn’t know it was the thing that would ruin her life. And she let it. Neglection came knocking softly at the door. She would lock herself in the dining area with...him. Soon, neglect came everyday. Along with this, she would let adolescence - or should I say anything happen. Things that most parents would say no to, she didn’t. Our beautiful mother who was once a grateful, work-hard spirit, was gone. She lost herself and let him take her down with him. My older brother's only way of helping us, his siblings, all he had, was to also be gone… off at practice, games, stealing food for us, just trying to find a way to help. He had to make it, he had to make it out. He had to show us that life is hard and life hurts. Although, if you work hard and KEEP working hard, everything will pay off in the end. And it did. Summer 16’, My mother sent us off to live with my brothers’ grandmother. Abandoned us. Gave us up. The pain in our hearts. The dreadful, aching pain. A few years passed. My brother graduated, went off to College states away. He then came back and started attending Wright State and Sinclair. My brother is my only role model. In addition to this, my two older siblings choosing their path, I have to choose mine. I used to be so angry, depressed, and most of all just… hurt. Everything, unmentioned and mentioned, just hurts. It hurts to not have the figures you need to maintain in life. It makes you have to grow up faster. And that’s what I did. Someone, that isn’t in my life anymore, taught me how to be happy again. In reality, I just feel relieved now, towards everything that made me angry and sad and hurt. I am relieved because so many nights, so many lonely nights of me crying myself to sleep, just got old to me. Overrated. Replayed and played out. I had to look at the bright side of things. Now, I am an electronic technician who is fully committed and accepted into Central State University, still striving to do and be my best at all times. My former psychology teacher told me that to be a psychologist making a nice amount, you would have to get a masters degree (six years). I accepted this statement and now I will challenge it and never give up. Although, I know I need a successful career beforehand. Since I play two sports and love to be on the field, I decided to get a 4 year degree in exercise science, to get my bachelors degree in athletic training. To top this off, this march, I am starting real estate classes and stocks. By the new year I should own a small portion of land inside a mall plaza or somewhere with great scenery where I am from, outside of dayton. My name and purpose will be known. I am determined to never work a nine to five by the time I turn 20 years old. Dayton isn’t the place to be. I look up to my brother because he made it out. He is successful and a senior in college. He is why I keep going. I will not have a hard life like my mother. With that being said , I definitely won’t let my mothers backfires and struggles that were put on us determine my future. Life is two short to have one downfall and give up. Life is too blissful to waste it. I will do whatever it is I have to do to achieve my goals and manifest everything I ever wanted.
Tyara M
University of Houston-Clear LakeHouston, TX
Cody Killian
Liberty UniversityHamilton, OH
In 2016, my wife and I had our second child - a beautiful, baby girl. The months to follow incorporated many days and nights of struggle and disagreement between me and my wife. Nothing seemed to help our relationship. I felt so discouraged during that season of our life. It wasn't until she began speaking with her primary care physician that we realized that she was struggling with postpartum depression, which was compounded by challenges with anxiety pertaining to the fear of illness. The times of these challenges in our marriage helped me become a more patient and understanding person. This woman that I loved so much was struggling with changes and challenges that neither of us understood. We are people of faith and there are so many stigmas that are associated with mental health challenges in relation to being a Christian. We began to be totally aware of our own predispositions and biases toward those that struggled with mental health issues because it had now come to our home. In the present, we are able to see the world around us through the lens of love, grace, and patience because we are certain that we cannot possibly know what any individual may be dealing with internally or externally. We hope to continue making our personal sphere of influence aware of the patience that we all need with each other as we continue to develop, grow, and become who we are all aiming to be in our own ways. In the future, my hopes are tied to a career and dream where I can help those that are struggling with these sorts of issues. Being able to complete a Master's Degree and pursue a licensure to provide professional counseling services will allow me to be hands on with a dream to be a help to those in need. In addition, completion of this degree program will provide a means for the vision of my life in the future, both professionally and personally, to become a reality as we care for those who are in need of a soul that is familiar with their struggle, an ear that is willing to listen, and a voice that is determined to encourage.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Jul 5, 2024. Winners will be announced on Aug 5, 2024.

left to get a chance to win $7,300!