Lyons, Gosnell, and Barron Scholarship Awardees
Verne LaMarr Lyons Memorial Scholarship
The Verne LaMarr Lyons Memorial Scholarship is awarded to master’s degree candidates in social work who demonstrate an interest in or have experience with health/mental health practice and have a commitment to working in African American communities.
The 2023 scholars are:
Jeneba “Zaynab” Berety
Loyola University Chicago
I want to contribute to effective systems that protect the fundamental human rights of communities everywhere. Social workers helped liberate my family from a refugee camp and provided support and aid to my family during difficult times. I want to continue this practice of accompanying Black migrant families worldwide as they seek peace and community.
New York University
I am an African American woman, daughter, sister, community member, and leader committed to and passionate about fighting for justice for Black people throughout the world. This scholarship would be an opportunity to expand on my experiences with the tools to develop a better understanding of what support and healing can look like for my community.
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
During my internship, I had the pleasure of working with at-risk African American female youth providing social-emotional learning. During these lessons we focused on mental health awareness, normalizing mental health interventions, and discussing mental health resources. This solidified my interest in continuing to address mental health in the African American community.
University of Texas Arlington
As an African American woman who has experienced the journey of finding adequate, culturally competent therapists, I want to pair my lived experience with learned clinical analysis. Learning additional skills would make me a more robust resource to those in need.
Azusa Pacific University
In this next career chapter, I plan to work with communities with the least access to mental health services but with the most significant needs. As a Black woman, I have felt the generational pain and trauma brought on by racial stress, trauma and PTSD. Yet, I have also been fortunate to experience the healing that unfolded once I gained access to mental health services from a Black clinician.
Virginia Commonwealth University
My goal upon achieving my social work degree is to establish my own nonprofit organization that is dedicated to advancing the lives of African Americans and other people of color who were failed by U.S legal system, including those diagnosed with health disorders.
Lawanna Barron Scholarship
The Lawanna Barron Scholarship is awarded to one BSW student or one MSW student with demonstrated interest, or experience, in working in rural settings and/or health and mental health in African American communities.
The 2023 scholarship recipient is:
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Many members of the Black community, when looking for a therapist, look for someone who is of the same race or who may have had similar experiences as their own. My goal is to become a psychotherapist so that individuals who seek out help or resources will have access to professionals who they feel can better understand their story and help them navigate their journey to healing.
Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial Scholarship
The Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial Scholarship is awarded to master’s degree candidates in social work who have demonstrated a commitment to working with, or who have a special affinity with, American Indian/Alaska Native and Hispanic/Latino populations.
The 2023 scholarship recipients are:
Salem State University
My long-term goal is to open a private practice/resource center for youth and immigrant families to have support and therapeutic services they may not have access to due to financial burden, language, and status to ensure their needs are met. I am very proud of what I do, where I am from, who I am and the work that I do for my community.
University of California, Los Angeles
Like Consuelo, I fully acknowledge the role that government agencies can play in helping to resource mental health programs in historically marginalized communities. I plan to bring this strategic mindset as a collaborator in multidisciplinary teams at schools to deliver the best care for youth.
University of Montana
Where I am from, there are not many Indigenous people who have an MSW. They are hard to find and are definitely absent in systems that serve Indigenous people. I will be able to be a familiar face and someone who understands Indigenous clients’ worldview in systems that serve Indigenous clients in Montana. Representation matters.
Erika Mora Villegas
Northeastern Illinois University
I feel honored to be working with the minority populations within the school and being able to support my Hispanic/Latino community. I have learned about other communities and cultures and the unique needs of not only the students, but their families.
Florida Atlantic University
My mom came from Mexico and is a current DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient, and my Dad came from Cuba during the Mariel exodus alone as a teen. I am working to give back to those who find themselves at odds with societal barriers by empowering their resilience and ability to heal from generational trauma.
University of Missouri
After graduating, I intend to pursue licensure and empower healing through a private practice serving Spanish-speakers thereafter. What excites me most, however, is the prospect of educating as an adjunct professor at our local community college. As an educator I also want to empower.
Jocylynn “Leigh” Smith
University of Kentucky
Living in Alaska my whole life has been special because I was raised around the Alaska Native culture. Through the years, I have supported this population through direct service, prevention and education, substance use counseling, and advocacy for youth. Alaska Native people are incredibly resilient, and I admire their strength.
University of Illinois Chicago
Being part of a racial minority has contributed to my understanding of unfair and unjust practices and conditions that harm the underrepresented community, including a broad range of privileges denied to people of color in our society but specifically to the Chicano and Latino community. Through my personal experiences at Pilsen Food Pantry, I understand the resources and advocacy one needs to succeed and survive in our society. I am committed to be a facilitator for my community to achieve and thrive.
University of Texas at Austin
Receiving the Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial Scholarship will empower me to get the most out of my social work education and leverage it in service of creating stronger, safer, and healthier Latinx communities.
Josue Velasquez Higueros
Boston College School of Social Work
Since June 2022, I have engaged the Latinx/Hispanic community in dementia clinical studies. My experience demonstrates that the Latinx/Hispanic community needs ongoing support, knowledge, and empowerment. My goal is to bridge these gaps. I am committed to planting these seeds of change and progress wherever my journey as a social worker takes me.