2024 Scholarship Winners

Meet the Winner and Runners-up of the
2024 Laurel House Social Work Racial Equity Scholarship

Laurel House, Inc., and Resources to Recover, a free service of LH, are proud to announce the 2024 Social Work Racial Equity Scholarship winner and runners-up. The goals of the Scholarship are to cultivate more Black and Latino social workers committed to social change and to increase access to mental health care treatment by communities of color. This is the third year the Scholarship has been offered.

Isabela Yoguez

Winner of the $10,000 Social Work Racial Equity Scholarship for school tuition and expenses

Isabela Yoguez lives in Fairfield, CT with her mother and four siblings. She is a first-generation Mexican American and received her Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, in Cognitive Science and Health Studies from the University of Richmond. Isabela is also a student-athlete who played lacrosse since she was a child and played in college where she was the Co-President of Women’s Club Lacrosse. She will attend the Columbia University School of Social Work starting in the fall and is eager to join the mental health and social services community in Connecticut and New York.

Sahmra Sawyer

First Runner-up and winner of a $1,000 cash award for school expenses

Norwalk Native, Sahmra Sawyer is a Writer, Spoken Word Poet, and MSW student at Fairfield University.

Sahmra is also the Founder of a poetry platform called We’ve Got Something To Say LLC, which works to promote mental health and well-being through the art of poetry and spoken word by creating safe spaces for voices to be heard, located in Bridgeport, CT.

She is multifaceted and refuses to be confined creatively and professionally. Her mission is to become a Clinical Social Worker and Psychotherapist providing healing to the world by incorporating poetry into Narrative Therapy, CBT, and DBT!

Akilah King

Second Runner-up and winner of a $500 cash award for school expenses

Akilah is a first-generation American with family roots in Barbados. Witnessing the hardships her parents endured has instilled in her a deep appreciation for the transformative power of education. Currently, she is a second-year Master of Social Work clinical-track student at Sacred Heart University. Her ultimate goal is to attain licensure as a Clinical Social Worker and establish a private practice in her community. This dream is fueled by her passion and recognition of the significant need for mental health services, having seen firsthand the profound impact mental health can have on individuals and communities

Scholarship winner Isabela Yoguez (2nd from left) and First Runner-up Sahmra Sawyer (2nd from right), and Second Runner-up Akilah King (middle), with Jay Boll, Vice President of Laurel House, Inc., and Laurel House Diversity Outreach Resource Specialist, Danielle Leblanc.

Please join us in congratulating the winner of this year’s Social Work Racial Equity Scholarship and two runners-up. We commend you for your present and future contributions to the field of social work and the communities you serve!

The Need for More Black and Latino Mental Health Care Professionals

Black, Latino, Asian, and Native American people have higher rates of some mental health disorders and face greater disparities in getting help than White people, largely due to lack of access to services (American Psychological Association). With proper care, 70 – 90% of people with mental illness experience significant reduction in symptoms and improved quality of life. However, there are barriers to individuals seeking help for themselves or loved ones: access to and cost of treatment, stigma, and availability of local, culturally appropriate mental health care resources.

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