Every year, FHE Health’s “Hope for Healing Scholarship” draws hundreds of applications. The $5000 award goes to one undergraduate and one graduate student who demonstrate exceptional promise in the field of behavioral health. This year’s application process, now in its fourth year, was no different.
After narrowing the field to eight impressive finalists—meet them here—our selection committee has made its decision: Mason Collie and Lindsay Koncz are the 2023 winners of the Hope for Healing Scholarship. You’ll have a chance to get better acquainted in the coming weeks when we interview them and feature their inspiring stories. For now, we invite you to discover a bit more about what sets them apart, through these highlights from their personal essays….
Mason Collie – Undergraduate Recipient
Mason Collie is a student at the University of Houston, where he is preparing for medical school and a future in addiction medicine. Getting here wasn’t easy. Along the way, Collie encountered “much hardship and difficulty” but “refused to give up.”
After withdrawing from high school to get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, Collie got sober in March 2019 and enrolled at Archway Academy, a “high school designed for recovery.” There he became student body president and valedictorian of his class.
More obstacles emerged in the transition to college. Collie experienced mental health challenges. He also dealt with the reality of the legal and financial consequences of his past addiction. (This meant supporting himself through school by working weekends as a restaurant server.)
Ultimately, Collie found his way with the help of his 12-step sponsor and a community of young people called Cornerstone. They taught him about the importance of integrity and service in recovery.
Today, Collie is himself a 12-step sponsor and a leader in Cougars in Recovery (a program not unlike Cornerstone) at the University of Houston. He is a trained mentor in CIR and co-founded the group’s service and community arm. It organizes various service projects both on and off campus. Collie has interned at the UT Health OB/GYN department, will be attending three overseas medical brigades later this year in Guatemala, Ghana, and Greece, and is starting a new job as a research assistant in Memorial Hermann Hospital’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine department.
Lindsay Koncz – Graduate Recipient
Lindsay Koncz is a full-time student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Adams State University, Colorado, and is preparing to serve the Deaf Community as a mental health provider. She first learned “that members of the American Deaf Community are reluctant to utilize mental health services” a few years ago, when she was completing an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter training program. That is when she learned that Deaf people often forego therapy because it requires a third-party interpreter. Even with strict confidentiality rules, many members of the Deaf Community feel uncomfortable sharing their most intimate thoughts, feelings, and experiences with another stranger in the room (in addition to their therapist).
This news was “disheartening,” Koncz wrote, because she was eager to “interpret in a variety of mental health settings” as a certified interpreter. The real turning point that cemented Koncz’ calling came when Koncz heard the story of a Deaf man whose inability to access mental health services led to tragic consequences. Koncz realized that her background in mental health and her work as an ASL interpreter uniquely equipped her to bridge this gap in therapy services that too many Deaf people face.
Koncz’ work and volunteer experience reflect her specialization in mental health and her commitment to the Deaf Community. On the mental health side, she has volunteered numerous times for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s “Out of the Darkness” 5k walks, participated in the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Peer-2-Peer workshop, attended support groups for friends and family, and obtained certification to help others with mental health challenges via an eight-hour course in Mental Health First Aid.
Meanwhile, Koncz has also used her ASL interpretation skills in various settings and for churches, schools, and camps. She has been a member of the board of directors for the non-profit Deaf Camp Inc. (DCI) for the past eight years, during which time she has co-directed Deaf and hearing children in the Younger ASL camp at Camp Manidokan in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.