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VonDerek Casteel Being There Counts Scholarship

1 winner$500
Application Deadline
Apr 15, 2024
Winners Announced
May 15, 2024
Education Level
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
High school, undergraduate, or graduate student
Field of Study:
Mental health

Bringing awareness to suicide and mental health struggles is crucial in order to save lives and create a happier, healthier society.

Suicide continues to claim many victims each year, cutting short their dreams and goals and leaving a permanent hole in their families and communities. Fighting this epidemic requires destigmatizing mental illness and encouraging passionate individuals to enter the mental health field. 

This scholarship aims to support students who are going to school in the mental health field in order to bring awareness to suicide, mental health, and ways for healthy grieving.

Any minority high school, undergraduate, or graduate student who is pursuing the mental health field may apply for this scholarship.

To apply, tell us about yourself, your career goals, how this scholarship would help you, and why you’ve decided to pursue the mental health field.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Drive, Impact
Published September 2, 2023
Essay Topic

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What are your career goals? Why do you deserve this scholarship? How would this scholarship benefit you? Why did you choose your career field?

400–600 words

Winning Application

Morgan Davis
John H Guyer High SchoolArgyle, TX
A major event I consider a turning point in my life was the isolation I experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. I became despondent and lonely when the world shut down in 2020. Being an only child and then suddenly becoming separated from my friends and disconnected from society was the hardest transition to go through. It was difficult to find the motivation to get up in the morning when I had nothing new and exciting to look forward to. And before I knew it, my “new normal” turned into a mind-numbingly mundane daily routine. But, I realized that the pandemic and the subsequent “shelter in place” order was unprecedented and I wasn’t going through this hardship alone. Lots of people felt the sting of loneliness on lockdown. One of my friends who was already struggling with pre-pandemic mental health issues took a turn for the worse and fell into a deep depression so bad that she couldn’t get out of bed most days and eventually required the help of a therapist and prescription medication. And to compound the problem, some of our mutual friends mocked her depression, telling her to just think happy thoughts and they behaved as though mental illness isn’t a real illness! At that moment, I felt powerless because I couldn’t physically be there to support her through it. However, I realized that it didn’t matter if I was physically there or not, she just needed to feel my support. So I checked in on her daily and we talked on the phone constantly. Whenever her mind drifted towards a dark place, she felt comfortable enough to reach out to me for help. I never expected to feel such an overwhelming sense of pride and importance to be “her person” and make a difference in someone’s life. I’m not implying I replaced her therapist but instead, I became part of her support system. As a result of COVID-19, I have gained a greater understanding of mental health. The first thing to note is that there is a stigma associated with mental illness, which is very prominent in the black medical articles that support that the Black community distrusts the medical system and its professionals. As an African-American girl who interns at a private practice, I can say firsthand that there are not nearly enough of us in this field. If there were, then maybe more people from my community would feel comfortable enough to seek help because there would be professionals available who have a better understanding of race-related struggles. Second, I learned that many mental health problems go undiagnosed and therefore untreated. This can lead to self-harm, homelessness, and, in the worst cases, suicide. And finally, and specifically to me, I learned that mental health is where I wanted to dedicate my future career aspirations by becoming a psychiatrist. At university, I plan on focusing on obtaining a bachelor’s degree and studying biology on a pre-med track with a minor in psychology. Then after I’ve successfully done that, I will work towards my doctorate in medical school. Ever since I could remember, I knew I was meant to be a doctor. However, through the COVID pandemic, my feelings of isolation, and my friends' struggles with depression, it became clear to me that helping people fight their battles with mental health by becoming a part of their support system would be the most rewarding job in the world. I believe that I deserve this scholarship because I am determined to better the lives of the people who need it.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Apr 15, 2024. Winners will be announced on May 15, 2024.

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