For DonorsFor Applicants

Pablo Nuñez Memorial Scholarship

Funded by
user profile avatar
Puerco in Action
2 winners, $504 each
Application Deadline
Jun 18, 2021
Winners Announced
Jul 18, 2021
Education Level
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Career Interest:
Something related to mental health services

Since the 17th century, the United States has opened its borders to immigrants around the world.

People immigrate to the United States for a plethora of reasons, but unfortunately, many of them endure awful traumas before, during, and after immigrating. 

Anti-immigration policies implemented throughout history have contributed to the animosity toward immigrants, often unchecked. These deplorable acts of hate and discrimination have a destructive effect on the mental health of immigrants, especially those who have fled from dire domestic conditions. 

Everyone deserves access to mental health services, regardless of language or cultural barriers. To honor the life of Pablo Nuñez and to support immigrants in their fight, the Pablo Nuñez Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to two bilingual graduate students who are currently studying to enter the field of mental health services specifically for immigrant relief. 

To apply, please write about what you believe to be the greatest barrier keeping immigrants from accessing mental health services and the ways in which you would solve this issue. 

Selection Criteria:
Essay, Mental Health, Ambition, Purpose, Vision
Published May 26, 2021
Essay Topic

What do you believe is the greatest barrier keeping immigrants from accessing mental health services? How would you solve this issue? 

400–600 words

Winning Applications

Alejandra Magana Gamero
University of California-Los AngelesSanta Monica, CA
In 1995, my parents came to the United States from Guadalajara, Jalisco, México, in search of educational opportunities and economic advancement for their family. Though they only reached a middle school and high school education, they always emphasized the importance of pursuing higher education. To honor their sacrifice, I told myself I would one day be the first in my family to earn a PhD. Throughout my educational trajectory my parents continuously pushed me to use my knowledge to support my community, which led to my involvement with a range of organizations that predominantly serve low-income individuals, first generation college students, and students of color. As a Mexican first generation college student, coming from a mixed-status immigrant family, I have witnessed the impact of a wide range of mental health issues (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, etc). Most often, the mental health issues I witnesses were not attended to due to lack of access. In my experience, I have come to identify three main barriers keeping immigrants from accessing mental health services; stigma, language, socioeconomic status. In many immigrant communities mental health issues are often seen as taboo and therefore actively ignored. Individuals are discouraged from seeking help and often reluctant to others finding out. This culture of hiding mental health issues often results in people not getting adequate care and the issue progresses to something that requires more intensive treatment. I would solve this issue by meeting immigrant communities where they are and promoting a deeper understanding of what mental health issues are and what mental health professionals do. This can be done via community centers, churches, and schools in a way that is inclusive of everyone and free of cost. Which brings me to my next point; language. Many immigrant families speak a language other than what is considered ""mainstream" in the United States, English. With an already challenging experience assimilating to a foreign country, trying to access resources that are not in an accessible language make access to mental health resources even more challenging. It is cleat that there is a need for more bilingual and bicultural mental health providers that understand the immigrant experience and can provide culturally relevant care. My solution would be to implement policy that direct funding towards the recruitment of mental health providers of color and that speak multiple languages. Having a provider that speaks your language can make all the difference when seeking a service, specially something like mental health which people do not very easily disclose. The third barrier I believe is important to address is socioeconomic status (SES) as this has been shown to correlate with health and the ways in which social determinants of health show up in different areas based on income. Not only does having a lower SES play a role in where you grow up, but once a mental health issue arises, having insurance to access the services needed is a whole other issue. After that, even if you do have insurance finding a provider that is close enough in range is another challenge. This all relates to socioeconomic status as research has shown that the more white and wealthy an area is, the more resources it has. I would solve this issue by demanding that resources for health and community center in low income areas also be delivered.
Katherine Medina-Pineda
CUNY Brooklyn CollegeNew York, NY
Immigrants experience a complex intersection of identities and beliefs, some mutable, that impact their lives in the short- and long term. For a lot of immigrant communities in the United States, individuals are fighting for basic human rights, protecting the legacy of their own cultural background while still trying to assimilate to their new environment. This process alone can be extremely exhausting and stressful; which- in addition to potential language barriers, biased hiring protocols in the workforce, ongoing racism on a structural, systemic level as well as on an individual basis, immigrant communities are left to feel unsupported and like they cannot rely on anything or anyone for help or support. Additionally, mental health counseling and the concept of psychology as we understand it in the United States is vehemently focused and only emphasizes the priorities and goals of individualistic cultures and communities, making it very difficult for individuals from collectivist backgrounds to feel comfortable in individual or group therapy. Mental health is a western, eurocentric, racially white field, and the concept of multiculturalism and inclusivity is a relatively new concept. Therefore, due to the lack of accessibility for culturally aware, language-appropriate therapy services, immigrants must also grapple with the culture shock of living in a new environment, the struggles of racial, ethnic, and religious biases and discrimination that are pervasive in the United States-- all while being forcefully put in the position by other members of the dominant, American society to be the sole representatives of their whole race/ethnicity/religion. My decision to pursue mental health counseling as a first-generation Honduran immigrant in the United States is two-fold. On the one hand, the experience of becoming a counselor is therapeutic in itself for me. I have always wanted to do something professionally that would have a long-term impact on my communities. Becoming a therapist for me means healing a tethered relationship between me, my mind, and my identities. There are not many people working in mental health that look like me, and I believe diversity in the field is the first step toward serving a truly diverse population. On the other hand, mental health has always been perceived in my communities of immigrant, Honduran, woman, fat, queer as a privilege or something bored people have access to because they have the time and resources to do so. I want to change that view, that mental health is tangential, that our humanities are not the most important thing in the world; I want people to learn to accept themselves, and in that, find acceptance for their surroundings. Psychoeducation will play a huge component in the destigmatization of mental health as most people hold believe psychology to be taboo. Additionally, I would like to do more research specifically on the experiences of latinx immigrants across the United States, in the hopes to bring new information to the field of mental health and treatment options for collectivist communities and immigrant populations.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Jun 18, 2021. Winners will be announced on Jul 18, 2021.

This scholarship has been awarded, but we have hundreds more!
Find a perfect scholarship now