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Meaningful Existence Scholarship

2 winners, $5,000 each
Application Deadline
Sep 6, 2023
Winners Announced
Dec 12, 2023
Education Level
Undergraduate, Graduate
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
Undergraduate or graduate student
Field of Study:
Mental heath-related fields with the intention of pursuing a career as a therapist

“The United States does not have nearly enough mental health professionals to treat everyone who is suffering. Already, more than 150 million people live in federally designated mental health professional shortage areas. Within a few years, the country will be short between 14,280 and 31,109 psychiatrists, and psychologists, social workers, and others will be overextended” -Association of American Medical Colleges

The Meaningful Existence Scholarship was created to address the critical shortage of mental health professionals nationwide. Now, more than ever, people need access to talk therapy and related resources. But the supply of therapists has not kept up with demand. Our mission is to help close that gap. 

If you are a student committed to pursuing a career as a therapist, we want to support your goal. Scholarship winners will receive $5,000 to put towards tuition, fees, and other related financial obligations. Please apply by submitting an essay that answers the prompt below. 

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Drive, Impact
Published June 5, 2023
Essay Topic

Why are you passionate about pursuing a career in therapy?

400–600 words

Winning Applications

DeShaun Reid
CUNY Lehman CollegeThe Bronx, NY
“What is meaningful enough for me to dedicate my entire existence to it?” This is a question I have pondered since I faced my mortality. I understand my mind as one that ruminates about where all the roads my choices and the entropy of the universe can take me. Unchecked, my thoughts tend to gravitate toward all the things that can go wrong, rather than what could go right! The generic "What do you want to be when you grow up?" never resonated with me due to the insecurities I had about the topic. From my point of view, it was a loaded question. You’re telling me my entire adult identity hinges on my answer and if I do not choose a socially acceptable profession my family and friends will view me as a failure based on what they have come to expect from me?! Forget that, I said. Obviously, this was a very pessimistic outlook on my part however, in my eyes, it was the only rational take… and that was my problem. The emotions that came with being the first-born son of two loving, successful college-educated immigrants who expected me to set an example for my younger brother and lead the family into the 21st century. Alas, I had no idea how to deal with these emotions and expectations, so I buried them. Like most Caribbean households, my family did not acknowledge mental health; from their vantage point, they saw my apathy as me being lazy and spoiled. Ironically, I was subconsciously using the tools my father had inadvertently shown me and his father had shown him–sarcasm, pride, and emotional detachment–to deflect the feelings that we were just not equipped to deal with. This negative philosophy and mindset seeped into all aspects of my life, and it became detrimental to my psyche, relationships, and academics. I was 23 years old still at home without a college degree, plan, or purpose. After years of walking down the path I had chosen by not making a choice, I reached a precipice, staring down an abyss of my own making. Astoundingly, that is when counseling came into my life; the meaning I had been searching for all this time found and saved me! My cousin, who had just become a life coach, sat me down and asked “What does DeShaun Reid want in life?” The question was never directly posed to me, let alone by a family member in my age group. I always struggled with the thought of living up to someone else’s expectations I left no room for my desire in my own life! For the first time, I truly examined myself, what interested me, and how I could live a life that I deemed worthy of the ups, downs, and hard work that came with it. I thought about how much my mental health dictated the type of life I had lived up until that point and how my culture made it standard for my family to be oblivious to my inner turmoils. I knew I had to be the catalyst for the change I wanted to see in not only myself but in the world! I eventually earned my BA in Psychology with honors; currently, I am 28 pursuing my Masters in Mental Health Counseling with plans for a doctorate in the field. The burning passion I have to chase my dreams for a career in therapy comes from finally realizing the purpose of my existence and knowing that existence is bigger than me because of my desire to bring others solace and meaning to theirs!
Stephanie Dowd
LeTourneau UniversityScurry, TX
It has been twelve years, but I still remember Krystal's face. Two toddlers would attend each appointment with her, and she would apologize for the messes they made and the noise from their play. I loved when she visited; it reassured me that she was safe. Krystal was being seen for a surgical revision to her gastric bypass. She had maintained her goal weight, but she was having several complications. Her appointed psychiatrist approved Krystal for surgical clearance despite major red flags. A common depression screening would have shown that she suffered from severe depression and had suicidal ideations prior to her surgery. Within a month of her surgery, she had attempted suicide a dozen times. We received several notifications from in-patient mental health units that Krystal was unstable and would need continued monitoring. Still, they would hold her for 72 hours, and then she would be released. Krystal died before her three-month post-operative appointment, leaving her children, husband, and mother behind in the wake of her pain. Many things should have been done to save Krystal. Krystal needed an advocate for her mental health. Yet, surgeons miss obvious cues to mental illnesses that threaten their patients' safety. Without continued psychological care, bariatric surgery is dangerous for most morbidly obese patients. As I complete my master's degree, I am eager to work to establish a "red light" barrier to help eradicate the problem of post-bariatric surgery suicidality. Foremost, my goal is to work with insurance carriers to mandate continued psychological assessment in the one-year post-operative time frame as a contingency of surgical coverage and reimbursement. Though some surgeons will still discount depressive states, the continued screening will help families prove where surgeons chose to look the other way in the presence of obvious mental illness. In addition to saving lives, red light barriers will help families ensure accountability from the surgeons. Secondly, it is a goal of mine to establish a protocol for mental health care needs during the one-year time frame following bariatric surgery. To date, there are few studies that compile evidence about the physiological changes and mental states during the postoperative period. Through research, we can find the most effective means of recognizing trends and ensuring client safety. Throughout my degree, I have worked full-time, raised my children, and applied myself to maintain a 4.0 GPA. However, due to my pregnancy, I have been laid off. I begin my practicum next semester and cannot have a full-time job, but there is little hope of paying for my last seven courses without a full-time job. There are many other applicants, but my family and I would appreciate the monetary help in achieving my goal.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Sep 6, 2023. Winners will be announced on Dec 12, 2023.

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