CFA congratulate the five winners of our 2020-2021 Social Justice Scholarship. The awards committee was impressed by the work of all of this year’s applicants. You can learn more about each of this year’s winner’s and their work below:
Nataly Esparza is currently a Senior Double Majoring in Political Science and Spanish on a Pre-Law track. Nataly serves as the Undocu/DACA Mentor through the office of OIIR, which allows her to assist undocumented/DACAmented students through workshops, weekly office hours, scholarship applications, resource guiding, etc. Secondly, Nataly serves as the Development and Grants intern at the New American Welcome Center as well as a Senator in LAS-B through the Illinois Student Government which allows her to create resolutions and projects to help out different communities and voice various concerns of the student body. Nataly’s other extracurriculars include being an active member of I-CAUSE, ISG student committees, and Spanish Tutor. After graduation Nataly plans to attend law school and practice immigration law, as she has witnessed how the system often neglects members of disadvantaged communities like herself who lack opportunities to seek and receive fair representation in legal procedures, which affects not only the outcome of one case, but communities as a whole.
Ciara Johnson is a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Integrative Biology. A native to the Southside of Chicago, Ciara has been introduced to the vast, diverging opportunities and disadvantages Chicago has to offer to its residents. At a young age, Ciara was exposed to the socioeconomic disparities within the Chicago area, creating an internal desire for her to connect underserved areas in the city to the world-class experiences of Chicago. With an unwavering commitment to STEM advancements, she plans to become an entrepreneur and leader in the science and technology fields, specifically focusing on using her platform to address socioeconomic disparities that limit minorities from gaining access to the STEM field. Ciara is an active part of her community through being an active member of programs including The Few Initiative for Children, The Illini Medical Screening Society, and the Technology Entrepreneur Center Student Advisory Board. She has utilized the platforms she has been part of to be a resource for others through her service and commitment.
Hiba Ahmed is a Junior at the U of I studying business and environmental sustainability. She is passionate about using her resources to uplift her community and has done so through social entrepreneurship and student organizing. She has created social entrepreneurship projects in Champaign to facilitate economic opportunities for low-income residents. She is also a part of Believers Bail Out, a bail fund that supports Muslims in pre-trial incarceration. Additionally, she is active in the movement to get cops off campus by organizing with a working group of students and faculty at U of I.
Keyana Diaz is from Waukegan, Illinois, and a sophomore at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Keyana is currently majoring in human development and family studies, with a concentration in child and adolescent development. Keyana plans to obtain my PhD and help people with mental illnesses and become a professor. Keyana created a five-part webinar series Anti-Racism: Awareness and Allyship with two of my allies, because she wanted to amplify the voices of the Black community and educate others on to help them. The topics include what the Black community has done in making their voices heard, how people contribute to racism unconsciously and individually, how society has put the Black community at a disadvantage, the relationship between policing and race, and how people can practice anti-racism and be allies in our daily lives. Keyana believes that education is a powerful tool that we can use to spread valuable information that could make a difference in other people’s lives and inspire others to create change.
Tyeese Braslavsky is studying Political Science and Social Psychology with a minor in Communications at the University of Illinois and will be beginning her senior year in the Fall of 2021! With a keen interest in civil and human rights education and advocacy, Tyeese leads the Student Advocacy Coalition on campus, serves as an intern and tutor for the YMCA’s New American Welcome Center, a volunteer with the Education Justice Project and has served for 3 years in the Illinois Student Government as Senator and Outreach Coordinator! Post-graduation, Tyeese hopes to attend law school and pursue a career as a civil rights lawyer. In her free time, you can always find her with an iced coffee in hand, listening to a Broadway cast recording, taking photos of anything and everything on campus, and, of course, talking about her many, many plants!
More information about the Social Justice Scholarship can be found here.