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Meet the Newest Recipients of our Empowerment Fund

September 3, 2021Fine Files

In June 2020, we announced our Empowerment Fund, which focuses on one simple idea: when women are empowered to lead, they empower everyone around them, promoting collaboration, fairness and equality.

This year, we pledged $50,000 USD in scholarships for low-income women and non-binary people in the United States in partnership with the Jeanette Rankin Foundation (JRF). Here’s how our investment was distributed amongst seventeen scholars who identify as BIPOC: 

- $42,500 in funding (17 scholarships x $2,500 USD each)

- $7,500 in administrative fees and social support services


We’re excited to share the stories of some of the recipients.


LAURA GRACE MASSEY

What is your vision for the next 5 years?

To be on a team working to develop prevention programs for school districts. With so much attention paid to academics, students are left unprepared mentally and emotionally to manage themselves in relation to their environments and challenges. My goal is to develop groundbreaking prevention programs that truly leave no child behind and to get those programs established in every school district in the country.

How will you put this scholarship to use?

I have disabilities that interfere with my ability to do schoolwork. This scholarship will pay for treatments that I otherwise couldn’t afford. I started with the goal of getting an Associates Degree and now I’m already making plans for graduate school! 

What kind of leader do you want to be?

I want to be a leader that listens—one who is compassionate, humble, and empathetic. I want to be a leader who practices stepping aside to let the brilliance in the room shine regardless of where it comes from. I want to authentically celebrate every success and never give up.

SCHALISA TAYLOR

What is your vision for the next 5 years?

Upon graduating from the University of Northern Iowa with a Bachelor's Degree in Criminology, I will continue on to pursue my Juris Doctor Degree in Law. I aspire to be a criminal defence attorney specializing in the juvenile and adult justice system on a state and federal level. My ultimate goal is to work for the Innocence Project to assist in exonerating wrongly convicted people.

How will you put this scholarship to use?

Education is one of the most essential assets in becoming a self-sufficient and productive member in society. Yet it is an expensive asset. This scholarship helps to empower my academic and career goals by removing financial barriers. It helps me better myself and my community. It also instills a greater sense of belonging and motivation as I realize that others believe in me.

What kind of leader do you want to be?

I hope that the adversity I have been able to overcome, and the determination that has driven me to push forward, will serve as an inspiration to others. I want to be an example of how it is never too late to strive and rise above whatever roadblocks they may face in life.

ELYZABETH INFANTE

What is your vision for the next 5 years?

To be working alongside amazing people, and doing what I love the most, which is helping patients out. I eventually want to continue my career and further it to where I can possibly become a Physician’s Assistant.

How will you put this scholarship to use?

This scholarship has helped me believe that anything is possible if you can believe in yourself and try your best. It has helped me empower other women to continue their dreams and goals. I can continue with my education without so much financial stress on how I will get by when paying to further my education and career goals.

What kind of leader do you want to be?

I want to be a leader that empowers other people to believe that anything is possible if they have the right help and support system by their side. I want to be the best role model for my children and show them that it is never too late to follow your dreams and achieve your goals.

SADE RIVERS

What is your vision for the next 5 years?

To have my own DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) consulting business, doing DEI work in the education field is my passion. I would love to help the school systems where I am from become more diverse and properly trained. Having children in a school system that is predominantly white, and growing up myself in predominantly white schools, I have seen how the school systems have failed us. I want to do my part to change a system that has been systematically racist with the tools and resources I have to make a difference.

How will you put this scholarship to use?

This scholarship plays a big part in helping me achieve my Bachelor’s in Communication. Receiving my degree will allow me to work towards my goal of becoming a Diversity Advocate at the school my children attend and to eventually create my own company as a DEI consultant. I think the reality for me is I am actually achieving my dreams even when I thought they were impossible. As long as I work hard, keep believing in myself and have support, I can do anything I set out to do.

What kind of leader do you want to be?

I want to be an advocate for other students of color to show that we are resilient and we can achieve as long as we believe in ourselves. I believe staying humble, having integrity, being honest and having humility is key to being a great leader. I try every day to embody these characteristics and teach my children the same. Sometimes it is my kids that teach me and I think that is the beauty of being a leader—learning to follow and take a seat back at times.

HOMA DINIARIAN

What is your vision for the next 5 years?

Professionally, I envision myself as a successful Registered Nurse who specializes in post-operative care. I plan to become a Nurse Practitioner afterwards. Forming and giving my son the right environment to succeed is strongly related to my professional success, through income and through the power of personal example. During my studies I have been helped by a few women’s organizations and I would like to reciprocate. So, I envision myself being part of a local women’s organization that helps students and single moms to become empowered through work and education.

How will you put this scholarship to work?

Being an immigrant and a single mom makes studying even more difficult and challenging. I have to take care of two other people (my son and my elderly mother), work and study. The scholarship brings me relief from worries about financial pressure on top of the pressures of exams and part-time work. Also, the emotional factor is important. It feels good to know that there are many people out there caring for people like me—it gives me more energy and hope.

What kind of leader do you want to be?

I desire to put my hard work, intelligence, talent and compassion towards servicing people who are suffering. In my Iranian culture, good leaders are discrete, have strong collaborative skills and encourage others. I think my leadership will be a style of “leading from behind” based on knowledge and collaboration. I am a perfectionist, so excellence and quality will also be characteristics of my leadership.

SARAH MCCARLEY

What is your vision for the next 5 years?

I envision myself graduating college and having a job in either forestry or wildlife conservation. I hope to eventually work for the National Park Service. I also want to help empower students and single moms through work and education.

How will you put this scholarship to use?

This scholarship will help me provide for the needs of my family and my academic needs, so that I can afford to be a full-time student and work more quickly towards my dream career.

What kind of leader do you want to be?

I want to be a leader in creating a more sustainable environment. I hope to teach and encourage others to do their part in preserving our home, Planet Earth.

To learn more about the Empowerment Fund and our ongoing projects, click here.


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