FHE Health will soon be announcing the names of the two winners of our very first, annual “Hope for Healing Scholarship.” On March 15, tune in on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram to find out who will be awarded a $5,000 grant to support their studies in behavioral health and related fields! One graduate and one undergraduate student will receive this very good news.
In the meantime, we wanted to introduce you to our eight finalists (four undergraduate and four graduate students). They were chosen from a large, highly competitive field of applicants. Our scholarship committee began its process of selection with a total of 471 applications, so these eight finalists deserve a big shout-out for arriving at this final stage! Their names and stories appear below and are listed alphabetically by last name:
Isabella Buckingham is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. After she graduates, she is planning on more graduate study, with the goal of earning certification as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. She would also like to earn a Ph.D. in Nursing. Isabella’s area of specialization is eating disorders, depression and addiction. Her academic work in this arena has already been published internationally— as far away as Sydney, Australia, where she was an author of a paper submitted at the “2020 International Conference for Eating Disorders.”
Samantha Capistrant, a graduate student at Southern New Hampshire University, is pursuing a Registered Nurse degree while working in the mental health field. Samantha is passionate about helping people with addictions and mental illnesses access quality healthcare without stigmatization. Her own profoundly impactful family experiences inspired her to choose this field and are what inform her inspiring commitment to daily excellence in care.
Eryca Hazekamp is a graduate student in the University of Maryville’s School of Nursing, where she is enrolled in the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) program. Eryka has worked in many areas of nursing, including ICU, home health, case management, and the emergency room. She found her calling in psychiatric nursing after seeing firsthand the stigmatization that patients with addictions and other mental illnesses often face. Her goal is eventual licensure as a family nurse practitioner and “establishing a ‘one-stop-shop’ in a rural area where families can receive seamless medical and mental healthcare.”
Caroline Henk is majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology at Auburn University. Her interest in the mental health field began at an early age: When she was in middle school, an aptitude test recommended a career in mental health counseling or something similar. Since that time, personal and family experiences have only deepened her passion to help people with addiction and mental health issues. After college, she hopes to pursue a graduate degree in behavioral neuroscience.
Ali Tufail Khan is enrolled in Northwestern University’s School of Medicine. At Northwestern and prior, he has nurtured a longtime interest in addiction and mental health issues and the cultural and religious barriers to treatment that many Americans face. In 2015, Ali was accepted into the Take Five Scholars Program at the University of Rochester to pursue a full year of immersion in behavioral health: “I studied personal identity as a potential barrier to treatment of mental health conditions and worked as an intern at a behavioral health clinic.” Ali is a volunteer with Hazelden Betty Ford iChicago. His goal after graduation: to improve access to mental and behavioral healthcare, especially for those in the criminal justice system.
Aarika Mattys, an undergraduate at Lafayette College, is majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology. Her academic and vocational path—to better understand and be part of the solution to the suicide epidemic—started with the loss of a dear friend who took her own life. Aarika had wanted to become a psychologist since seventh grade, but the loss of her friend sparked an accompanying interest in neuroscience and the cognitive processes that underlie suicidality. Aarika’s dream is to become a neuropsychologist and to one day “create a team that goes into rural schools after suicide occurs.” She wants to be a part of the healing process for survivors of suicide.
Celine Nguyen is at Rice University pursuing a dual undergraduate degree in Social Policy Analysis and Psychology. She had always thought she would be a researcher in microbiology, until a life-changing experience altered that trajectory. Now her goal is to become a psychiatrist and promote public policy changes in the mental health field. Celine currently serves as a National Student Ambassador at JED, a non-profit organization that raises awareness about teen mental health and suicide prevention. With JED, she has helped edit and write materials for an Instagram campaign that promoted healthy social media habits for teens and adults.
Melanie Ryerson is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the University of Central Florida. She is also in her sixth year as a special education middle school teacher. As a child, she became interested in the mental health field. That interest has only blossomed, thanks to teaching. In addition to work and school, Melanie manages to find the time to serve in a volunteer capacity helping adults who have suffered from trauma, mainly sexual abuse. She is the only one of her parents’ six children to have obtained a bachelor’s degree.
Let’s give these eight finalists a hearty round of virtual applause for their achievements in the field of behavioral health!