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Kenia Cruz Solano

765

Bold Points

1x

Finalist

1x

Winner

Bio

Aspire to attend UC Berkeley Double majoring in Psychology with a emphasis on neuroscience and Public Policy with a minor in Cellular and Molecular biology.

Education

Gompers Preparatory Academy

High School
2018 - 2024

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Doctoral degree program (PhD, MD, JD, etc.)

  • Majors of interest:

    • Psychology, General
  • Planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Mental Health Care

    • Dream career goals:

      Become a Child Psychologist

    • Intern

      Child Mind Institute
      2024 – Present7 months

    Research

    • Biological and Physical Sciences

      Sci-Mi — Participant
      2023 – 2023

    Arts

    • School Artist

      Drawing
      2021 – Present

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      Associated Student Body — Commissioner of Campus and Student Affairs
      2021 – Present
    • Advocacy

      Youth Leadership Program (YLP) — Member
      2024 – Present
    • Volunteering

      Mission Trails Camp Counseling — Campus Counselor
      2023 – 2023

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Politics

    Volunteering

    Philanthropy

    Kashi’s Journey Scholarship
    Winner
    "Come on, prima (cousin), you're almost there and can do it!" Brian shouts as I stand at the bottom of a seemingly infinite staircase to my four-year-old self. His encouragement, a testament to his unwavering support, motivated me then and continues to inspire me now. A tear falls from my eye as I rewind the camera, reminiscing about his contagious laughter. On October 23, 2021, at 7:13 am, my cousin Brian Solano Mendez had taken his life. My world went silent, dulled. My home now felt colorless, warmthless, in the midst of losing him to mental health mine slowly deteriorated and I myself became desolate and soon enough had my first panic attack. Growing up in a Mexican family with immigrant parents who persevered through the challenges of assimilation, mental health was stigmatized because it wasn't a visible illness. I constantly heard the phrase "Los hombres no lloran," meaning "men don't cry." This cultural stigma made recognizing and addressing Brian's silent battles difficult and I wouldn’t allow it to continue. Navigating my own mental health I found the power of community and it was how I coped as I was supported by the community and in return, supported it. In my sophomore year of high school, I joined MANAS, a leadership mentor program encouraging young women to strive for success. I got a mentor, a child-mental health researcher at UCSD, who has been a pillar of support and guidance as I expand my passion for mental health and took care of my own. Additionally, I joined a Stanford neuroscience club that aims to introduce marginalized identities to fields in which they are underrepresented, such as neuroscience. Through Sci-Mi, a research program, I investigated how environmental factors affect brain development. I also attended the UCI Medical Academy, gaining hands-on experience in medicine. My interest in public health also expanded beyond neuroscience. I became the San Diego representative for the non-profit Teen Source in California. I spoke about the DOSE family of neurotransmitters—Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins—and how to care for them to improve mental health. My advocacy extended further when I became an ambassador for SB-954, the Youth Health Equity + Safety Act, a bill introduced to California lawmakers in 2024. Through all these activities, I kept myself busy, refusing to let Brian's loss be something I would dwell on and it’s where I fight to pursue a career in neuroscience and public health, not just as an academic pursuit but as a mission to ensure that no one else suffers in silence. I aspire to attend UC Berkeley, where I aim to double major in Psychology, emphasizing Neuroscience and Cellular and Molecular Biology, with a minor in public policy. Pursuing higher education is not just a goal; it is a mission to intertwine the power of science and advocacy to create tangible change within my community. A degree would empower me to address some of society's most detrimental and pervasive issues, issues I have personally witnessed, such as depression in my Mexican-American community. A degree represents the privilege of becoming a change agent and advocate for my community. My ambition to become a neuroscientist is more than numbers, statistics, and experiments; it is a pathway to addressing disparities, especially within underprivileged communities. Being a first-generation student has taught me that my education is a privilege and a powerful tool to break barriers.
    Cat Zingano Overcoming Loss Scholarship
    "Come on, prima (cousin), you're almost there and can do it!" Brian shouts as I stand at the bottom of a seemingly infinite staircase to my four-year-old self. His encouragement, a testament to his unwavering support, motivated me then and continues to inspire me now. A tear falls from my eye as I rewind the camera, reminiscing about his contagious laughter. The fragments of my memories with Brian were like rays of sunlight on my darkest nights, reminding me that he will always be with me wherever the staircase of life leads. On October 23, 2021, at 7:13 am, my cousin Brian Solano Mendez had taken his life. My world went silent, dulled. Brian was more than a cousin; he was my brother, taken in during my childhood by my parents while his biological parents remained in Mexico, where he later returned. Brian filled our home with warmth and laughter, never had a harsh word for anyone, was always there to lend a helping hand, and when visiting, he would always greet us with a beaming smile. My home now felt colorless, warmthless. Growing up in a Mexican family with immigrant parents who persevered through the challenges of assimilation, mental health was stigmatized because it wasn't a visible illness. I constantly heard the phrase "Los hombres no lloran," meaning "men don't cry." This cultural stigma made recognizing and addressing Brian's silent battles difficult. In the wake of his death, my family was forced to confront the harsh reality of mental health issues. We searched desperately for answers to why he did what he did and didn't call for help. The painful truth was the lack of mental health resources. Brian's loss was the biggest challenge I had ever faced.Navigating his loss, I discovered the power of community. I realized that in times of chaos, our community lifts us up; we are never truly alone. Communities are there for us during our darkest and brightest moments; they are where we leave our lasting imprint on the world. This profound realization ignited my purpose to strive to enhance my community. My community is where people grapple with discrimination, poverty, mental health issues, diseases, and drug use. I aspire to attend UC Berkeley, where I aim to double major in Psychology, emphasizing Neuroscience and Cellular and Molecular Biology, with a minor in public policy. Pursuing higher education is not just a goal; it is a mission to intertwine the power of science and advocacy to create tangible change within my community. A degree would empower me to address some of society's most detrimental and pervasive issues, issues I have personally witnessed, such as depression in my Mexican-American community. A degree represents the privilege of becoming a change agent and advocate for my community. My ambition to become a neuroscientist is more than numbers, statistics, and experiments; it is a pathway to addressing disparities, especially within underprivileged communities. Being a first-generation student has taught me that my education is a privilege and a powerful tool to break barriers. As a young Latina woman, my drive for educational progression stems from a desire to catalyze change. Over time, I have learned that my experiences growing up exposed to such challenges have given me a unique lens to advocate for my community's betterment. In my sophomore year of high school, I joined MANAS, a leadership mentor program encouraging young women to strive for professional success. Through MANAS, I found a mentor, a child-mental health researcher at UCSD, who has been a pillar of support and guidance as I expand my passion for mental health. Additionally, I joined a Stanford neuroscience club that aims to introduce marginalized identities to fields in which they are underrepresented, such as neuroscience. Through Sci-Mi, a research program, I investigated how environmental factors affect brain development. I also attended the UCI Medical Academy, gaining hands-on experience in medicine. My interest in public health also expanded beyond neuroscience. I became the San Diego representative for the non-profit Teen Source in California. This youth advisory board reflects California's ethnic and geographic diversity to advance public health. In this role, I spoke about the DOSE family of neurotransmitters—Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins—and how to care for them to improve mental health. My advocacy extended further when I became an ambassador for SB-954, the Youth Health Equity + Safety Act, a bill introduced to California lawmakers in 2024. Through all these activities, I kept myself busy, refusing to let Brian's loss be something I would dwell on for too long and it’s where I fight to pursue a career in neuroscience and public health, not just as an academic pursuit but as a mission to ensure that others do not suffer in silence and to become a change agent within my community.
    Elevate Mental Health Awareness Scholarship
    "Come on, prima (cousin), you're almost there and can do it!" Brian shouts as I stand at the bottom of a seemingly infinite staircase to my four-year-old self. His encouragement, a testament to his unwavering support, motivated me then and continues to inspire me now. A tear falls from my eye as I rewind the camera, reminiscing about his contagious laughter. The fragments of my memories with Brian were like rays of sunlight on my darkest nights, reminding me that he will always be with me wherever the staircase of life leads.On October 23, 2021, at 7:13 am, my cousin Brian Solano Mendez had taken his life. My world went silent, dulled. Brian was more than a cousin; he was my brother, taken in during my childhood by my parents while his biological parents remained in Mexico, where he later returned. Brian filled our home with warmth and laughter, never had a harsh word for anyone, was always there to lend a helping hand, and when visiting, he would always greet us with a beaming smile. My home now felt colorless, warmthless. Growing up in a Mexican family with immigrant parents who persevered through the challenges of assimilation, mental health was stigmatized because it wasn't a visible illness. I constantly heard the phrase "Los hombres no lloran," meaning "men don't cry." This cultural stigma made recognizing and addressing Brian's silent battles difficult. In the wake of his death, my family was forced to confront the harsh reality of mental health issues. We searched desperately for answers to why he did what he did and didn't call for help. The painful truth was the lack of mental health resources. Brian's loss was the biggest challenge I had ever faced.Navigating his loss, I discovered the power of community. I realized that in times of chaos, our community lifts us up; we are never truly alone. Communities are there for us during our darkest and brightest moments; they are where we leave our lasting imprint on the world. This profound realization ignited my purpose to strive to enhance my community. My community is where people grapple with discrimination, poverty, mental health issues, diseases, and drug use. I aspire to attend UC Berkeley, where I aim to double major in Psychology, emphasizing Neuroscience and Cellular and Molecular Biology, with a minor in public policy. Pursuing higher education is not just a goal; it is a mission to intertwine the power of science and advocacy to create tangible change within my community. A degree would empower me to address some of society's most detrimental and pervasive issues, issues I have personally witnessed, such as depression in my Mexican-American community. A degree represents the privilege of becoming a change agent and advocate for my community. My ambition to become a neuroscientist is more than numbers, statistics, and experiments; it is a pathway to addressing disparities, especially within underprivileged communities. Being a first-generation student has taught me that my education is a privilege and a powerful tool to break barriers. As a young Latina woman, my drive for educational progression stems from a desire to catalyze change. Over time, I have learned that my experiences growing up exposed to such challenges have given me a unique lens to advocate for my community's betterment. In my sophomore year of high school, I joined MANAS, a leadership mentor program encouraging young women to strive for professional success. Through MANAS, I found a mentor, a child-mental health researcher at UCSD, who has been a pillar of support and guidance as I expand my passion for mental health. Additionally, I joined a Stanford neuroscience club that aims to introduce marginalized identities to fields in which they are underrepresented, such as neuroscience. Through Sci-Mi, a research program, I investigated how environmental factors affect brain development. I also attended the UCI Medical Academy, gaining hands-on experience in medicine. My interest in public health also expanded beyond neuroscience. I became the San Diego representative for the non-profit Teen Source in California. This youth advisory board reflects California's ethnic and geographic diversity to advance public health. In this role, I spoke about the DOSE family of neurotransmitters—Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins—and how to care for them to improve mental health. My advocacy extended further when I became an ambassador for SB-954, the Youth Health Equity + Safety Act, a bill introduced to California lawmakers in 2024. Additionally, I served as my school's commissioner of campus and student affairs, representing students' needs. Through all these activities, I kept myself busy, refusing to let Brian's loss be something I would dwell on for too long. I remember the mornings when Brian would help me with my homework, his laughter turning the most difficult problems into manageable tasks. These memories are now bittersweet, reminding me of the love and support he offered despite his own struggles.Brian's suicide is not something I have fully overcome, and I doubt I ever will; it forever changed my life. However, it is also my motivation to become a change agent in a world where mental health remains a struggle for many. Brian's death was a wake-up call to the silent battles many face. It ignited my passion to pursue a career in neuroscience and public health, not just as an academic pursuit but as a mission to ensure that others do not suffer in silence. Through education and advocacy, I aim to honor Brian's memory by fostering a community where mental health is prioritized and everyone feels supported.
    Ethel Hayes Destigmatization of Mental Health Scholarship
    "Come on, prima (cousin), you're almost there and can do it!" Brian shouts as I stand at the bottom of a seemingly infinite staircase to my four-year-old self. His encouragement, a testament to his unwavering support, motivated me then and continues to inspire me now. A tear falls from my eye as I rewind the camera, reminiscing about his contagious laughter. The fragments of my memories with Brian were like rays of sunlight on my darkest nights, reminding me that he will always be with me wherever the staircase of life leads. On October 23, 2021, at 7:13 am, my cousin Brian Solano Mendez had taken his life. My world went silent, dulled. Brian was more than a cousin; he was my brother, taken in during my childhood by my parents while his biological parents remained in Mexico, where he later returned. Brian filled our home with warmth and laughter, never had a harsh word for anyone, was always there to lend a helping hand, and when visiting, he would always greet us with a beaming smile. My home now felt colorless, warmth-less. Growing up in a Mexican family with immigrant parents who persevered through the challenges of assimilation, mental health was stigmatized because it wasn't a visible illness. I constantly heard the phrase "Los hombres no lloran," meaning "men don't cry." This cultural stigma made recognizing and addressing Brian's silent battles difficult. In the wake of his death, my family was forced to confront the harsh reality of mental health issues. We searched desperately for answers to why he did what he did and didn't call for help. The painful truth was the lack of mental health resources. Brian's loss was the biggest challenge I had ever faced.Navigating his loss, I discovered the power of community. I realized that in times of chaos, our community lifts us up; we are never truly alone. Communities are there for us during our darkest and brightest moments; they are where we leave our lasting imprint on the world. This profound realization ignited my purpose to strive to enhance my community. My community is where people grapple with discrimination, poverty, mental health issues, diseases, and drug use. I aspire to attend UC Berkeley, where I aim to double major in Psychology, emphasizing Neuroscience and Cellular and Molecular Biology, with a minor in public policy. Pursuing higher education is not just a goal but a mission to interlace the power of science and advocacy to create tangible change within my community. A degree would empower me to address some of society's most detrimental and pervasive issues, issues I have personally witnessed, such as depression in my Mexican-American community. A degree represents the privilege of becoming a change agent and advocate for my community. My ambition to become a neuroscientist is more than numbers, statistics, and experiments; it is a pathway to addressing disparities, especially within underprivileged communities. Being a first-generation student has taught me that my education is a privilege and a powerful tool to break barriers. As a young Latina woman, my drive for educational progression stems from a desire to catalyze change. Over time, I have learned that my experiences growing up exposed to such challenges have given me a unique lens to advocate for my community's betterment. In my sophomore year of high school, I joined MANAS, a leadership mentor program encouraging young women to strive for professional success. Through MANAS, I found a mentor, a child-mental health researcher at UCSD, who has been a pillar of support and guidance as I expand my passion for mental health. Additionally, I joined a Stanford neuroscience club that aims to introduce marginalized identities to fields in which they are underrepresented, such as neuroscience. Through Sci-Mi, a research program, I investigated how environmental factors affect brain development. I also attended the UCI Medical Academy, gaining hands-on experience in medicine. My interest in public health also expanded beyond neuroscience. I became the San Diego representative for the non-profit Teen Source in California. This youth advisory board reflects California's ethnic and geographic diversity to advance public health. In this role, I spoke about the DOSE family of neurotransmitters—Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins—and how to care for them to improve mental health. My advocacy extended further when I became an ambassador for SB-954, the Youth Health Equity + Safety Act, a bill introduced to California lawmakers in 2024. Additionally, I served as my school's commissioner of campus and student affairs, representing students' needs. Through all these activities, I kept myself busy, refusing to let Brian's loss be something I would dwell on for too long. I remember the mornings when Brian would help me with my homework, his laughter turning the most difficult problems into manageable tasks. These memories are now bittersweet, reminding me of the love and support he offered despite his own struggles.Brian's suicide is not something I have fully overcome, and I doubt I ever will; it forever changed my life. However, it is also my motivation to become a change agent in a world where mental health remains a struggle for many. Brian's death was a wake-up call to the silent battles many face. It ignited my passion to pursue a career in neuroscience and public health, not just as an academic pursuit but as a mission to ensure that others do not suffer in silence. Through education and advocacy, I aim to honor Brian's memory by fostering a community where mental health is prioritized and everyone feels supported.