Young, Gifted, and Black-Latinx: 2021 Lorraine Hansberry Humanist Scholarship Recipients

Sponsored by Black Skeptics Los Angeles, the Hansberry $500-$1000 scholarships provide multi-year support for WLP and Young Male Scholars’ college-bound graduates and alumni who are involved in humanist, feminist gender justice youth organizing in South L.A. and beyond.

My name is Arrai Lugo. I graduated from King Drew Magnet High School, of Medicine and Science, Class of 2020. I now attend El Camino College, where I am majoring in Administration Justice. At El Camino I plan to get my Associates Degree then transfer to UC Irvine. I Joined WLP my junior year at King-Drew. I recently joined back in January. Because of WLP I met some amazing people, participated in the Black Women in Rock Roundtable, and received therapy with Open Paths Counseling. I am really thankful for these ladies and Ms. Hutchinson.

My name is Merely Morfin, and I have been part of the Women’s Leadership Project for about a year. I graduated from King Drew Magnet High School, Class of 2020. I am the first generation to enter college within my family. I am attending California State University of Los Angeles, entering this coming Fall of 2021 as a sophomore. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity Ms. Hutchinson has given me to be part of this fantastic group of women. I have gained so much knowledge and skills in this program that I use daily, such as communication and leadership skills during our meetings, events, and upcoming projects. I do not have a specific major; however, I am curious about taking either political science or sociology. I am looking for a career that challenges both my qualities and skills. I am determined by this semester to choose between the two majors and follow a career that best suits me as a person and gives me motivation. Throughout my first year of college, not only was I able to pass all my classes with high scores, I gained many experiences and formed many connections online. WLP has given me the confidence to create these connections and see a different perspective rather than being an introvert. I can’t wait for more experiences and new bonds with people this coming year.

My name is Zorrie Petrus and I am a WLP alumni from Gardena High School, class of 2019. I am currently a photography major and plan to minor in film. Photography and filmmaking are my passions and I plan to do it for the rest of my life. I want to make a difference with my art and tell stories that you don’t usually hear. I never see photographers who look like me, that is something I want to change in my career and inspire young girls of color. Working with the Women’s Leadership Project has been a life changing experience because we have done so many amazing things. I love meeting and working with amazing people! The Women’s Leadership Project has also helped me grow as an artist as well which I really appreciate!

Deaven Rector at Morehouse College, second to last row, first on the left

My name is Deaven L Rector from Gardena, California and I received my Bachelors of the Arts in Political Science with honors at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, class of 2021. In the fall, I will be pursuing my Juris Doctorate degree at the illustrious Howard University School of Law. Over the past four years, my commitment towards developing a more beloved community has grown exponentially. I would not be the current social engineer I am today without the support I received from Young Male Scholars while I attended Gardena High School.

As a kid, I was considered a troublemaker. To be fair, I was not on the right path for a successful career. I was nearly kicked out of school for being a delinquent while receiving poor grades. My teenage years consisted of chaotic and non-supportive environments. I was neglected by my father. My mother worked 10-12 hours a day. I was primarily raised by my sick and elderly grandmother. I was lost. I had never even considered securing a higher education.

Fortunately, while matriculating through high school I received a guardian angel by the name of Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson. She saw my potential and she helped me to see my potential. At the outset of our relationship, she constantly gave me words of inspiration and wisdom as much as she could. I realized that unlike many of my teachers she cared about my future and wanted me to achieve a better life and to conquer every goal I had set for myself. She continuously raised her expectations for me by critiquing every detail of my assignments, attitude, vernacular, and the way I carried myself. Through her influence and encouragement, I transitioned from an ill-mannered malcontent of a teenager that only cared about football into a young adult that wanted to be the best student in every single class. Through Young Male Scholars (YMS) I was inspired to make the best out of any trial and tribulation I faced. YMS prepared me for Morehouse and geared me towards the journey I am on now.

My name is Désja Sheridan and I have been a member of WLP for one year now. I am an alumnus from King Drew Magnet High School, Class of 2021. I will be attending Cal State Dominguez Hills for my major in Psychology. My goal is to become a therapist and to give back to my community in order to help black queer women and teens. After I graduate with my Master’s degree, I plan to get my doctorate as my final step in becoming a therapist. WLP has connected me with great therapy organizations like Open Paths and Peace Over Violence. WLP has also educated me on topics I wasn’t informed on like politics regarding voting, elections, and even the Black Lives Matter movement that I was detached and desensitized from. With the help of Ms. Hutchinson I was able to be educated more on those topics and was able to be connected with black queer people like me and become an activist for my community. I will forever be thankful for WLP and Ms. Hutchinson for giving me this amazing opportunity.

My name is Jadyn Taylor. I am the former president of WLP and my high school’s GSA. I graduated from Gardena High School and I’m going to El Camino to further my education in law and work towards my cosmetology license. The Women’s Leadership Project has opened my eyes to a lot and has given me many great opportunities to speak up for those who are unspoken for. I want to have more knowledge in law, so I can actually start fighting for people. Voices do a lot but fighting the battle does so much more. I hope to make the justice system better for Black and Latinx men and women who have fallen victim to stereotypes and been placed somewhere they don’t belong when they should be out living life. I will make the justice system better one person at a time.