Congratulations to Our 2023 Lorraine Hansberry Humanist Scholarship Awardees!


Asha Kent, UC San Diego

My name is Asha Camile Kent. This spring, I graduated from King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science. Thanks to the sisterhood, guidance, lessons, and unwavering independence the Women’s Leadership Project has instilled in me these past four years, I am grateful to say I will be attending the University of California, San Diego this fall with a major in Political Science and an emphasis in African American studies. My upbringing persuaded me to pursue a career in law, with the goal of becoming a criminal defense attorney by the age of 30. As a long-standing member of WLP, I had the opportunity to publish articles regarding the effects of colorism on young black women. I’ve learned critical thinking, networking, and leadership skills. With mentors like Ms. H and Ms. Wesley, I’ve been given the opportunity to succeed, building my confidence along the way. My time in the Women’s Leadership Project has handed me the necessary tools to succeed in any environment I’m in. It’s become a second home in shaping me into the woman I am today. Growing from the shy girl afraid to speak her mind to the woman on her way to college with the intent of continuing this work in other communities.

Lizette Nsilu, El Camino College 

Hello all! My name is Lizette Nsilu and I am the former secretary of WLP. I graduated from King Drew Magnet High School as part of the Class of 2023 and I will be furthering my education at El Camino College with a major in Business Administration in the fall of 2023. After completing my prerequisites at El Camino, I will transfer to Dominguez Hills to receive my Bachelor’s degree in Finance and go into the financial consultant career field. One thing I can say is being a part of the Women’s Leadership Project has made me experience monumental growth in different fields such as confidence, public speaking, researching, and networking. When I first joined Women’s Leadership Project, I was very quiet, introverted, and scared to try new things, little did I know by the end of the year I’d be a leader and public speaker thanks to the help of Dr. Hutchinson, Ms. Clay, Ms. Robinson, Ms. Cook, and my peers. In the past year, I’ve written articles addressing social justice issues against women of color, addressed these issues on the KPFK radio show, spoken about these issues at public rallies and events, taken part in numerous panels, conducted trainings, addressed and shift the atmosphere around the King/Drew campus, and been a mentor for my peers. Not to mention the numerous hours of sharpening my research skills and networking at public events along the way. Everything I’ve learned along this unfortunately brief journey has over-prepared me for college, my career, and life itself and words couldn’t describe how extremely grateful I am to have experienced this opportunity. Thank you to the Lorraine Hansberry Scholarship for providing me with the opportunity to achieve my goals and thank you Women’s Leadership Project for helping me grow and obtain the skills I needed for my future endeavors.

Kimberly Ortiz, Cal State University, Los Angeles

My name is Kimberly Ortiz. I am 18 years old and a King Drew alumn as well as a former WLP President for 2022. I currently attend California State University of Los Angeles and will be going into my sophomore year this fall. As of now, I have been exploring the Criminal Justice major my first year and have happily enjoyed it.

A current aspiration I have for myself is to improve my mental health and work with kids in K-12 schools. I have also been looking into obtaining new experiences through an internship or working with children and helping to develop their education. I would like to thank the Lorraine Hansberry Humanist scholarship contributors for considering me as a recipient for this year’s awards. I am truly honored and would like to express my sincere gratitude for their contributions towards my education and success through opportunities like this. In addition, I would like to thank WLP for assistance in guiding me through situations of hardships. WLP has made a significant impact in my life, and I will never have enough words to express that. They have given me a place to feel safe and included when I needed it, whether it was through our virtual meetings or in person rallies. I have been motivated consistently to pursue the goals I set for myself. For example, recently we finished wrapping up an episode for our Virtual Homegirl podcast. I was left in awe of the effort we all put in when it came to the work WLP provides. WLP not only provides for the community and puts in effort to bring resources but they also provide for the students involved in making change. This includes checking up on students and staying up to date on how they are feeling or whether they need any kind of advice. This is significant to me, because when support is lacking at home at least students like myself have access to this kind of safe space and welcoming environment.

My educational journey and pursuits are not possible without support. Thank you for helping students achieve their dreams and providing them with support to succeed in the future.


Zorrie Petrus, New York University

My name is Zorrie Petrus and I am 21 years old. I attended Gardena High School, graduated in 2019, and attended El Camino Community College from Fall of 2019 to Spring of 2023. I will be transferring as a sophomore to NYU for Fall 2023. I got accepted to NYU Tisch School of the Arts where I’ll be studying photography. I am working towards getting my BFA and then an MFA. I plan to travel with my photography throughout my career, write, produce and direct my own films, and have my own photo studio to use for all of my projects. WLP has been important to my journey in many ways. Documenting our #STANDING4BLACKGIRLS events and many other events we’ve had has been an honor. The friends I’ve made through WLP are amazing (and I know they will be lifelong). I’ve been with the group since my sophomore year of high school and appreciate the knowledge I am constantly learning. There are so many experiences I’ve had with the group that I’ll cherish forever. Being able to receive this scholarship means the world to me. In the past it has helped with many school expenses and I am so appreciative for that.


Brianna Parnell, Santa Monica College

My name is Brianna Parnell (she/they). I am 22 years old.  This fall, I will be beginning my second year at Santa Monica College. My academic aspirations are to continue my higher education, and graduate with a certificate or degree to jumpstart a career in architecture. I’m also creative and wish to continue sharing my work with the world. WLP has been important to me on my journey by encouraging me since high school to be a visionary and a leader. Specifically, being an alum paid intern has been very helpful because it shows how valued we are to the organization. Accepting the role as the #Standing4BlackGirls task force coordinator has been helpful to me because I get to make a difference in myself and my community as an activist and youth leader. It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with WLP for these years. I’m very grateful for this scholarship, and all the people involved including donors. Let’s continue the work!

Mariah Perkins, Clark Atlanta University

Mariah Perkins, Clark Atlanta University

My name is Mariah Perkins. I am 18 years old. I recently graduated from King/Drew Magnet High School. I will be attending Clark Atlanta University in the fall. I hope to earn my bachelor’s degree in biology. I plan on becoming a physician’s assistant. WLP has been an important part of my journey because they have taught me the importance of standing up for your rights and sisterhood. I have learned so many things over the past 4 years. Being able to speak up about issues that directly affect me and others that are like me has been such an amazing experience. WLP has given me the opportunity to amplify the voices of those who aren’t hear while creating life long bonds.














Ashantee Polk, Antioch University, Class of  2026 

My name is Ashantee Polk and I’m 20 years old. I’m a King/Drew Magnet High School graduate and fourth year student at Antioch University. My academic aspiration is to receive my Bachelors in either Psychology or Business Administration, my Masters of Divinity (MDiv.), and my Doctorate in Psychology. I also aspire to pastor a church, while continuing to work in my community.

WLP has played a huge role in my journey because this organization has taught me a vast majority of what I know now about my community. WLP has also taught me skills I can use at
work, around my home, and in my everyday life. My favorite part about WLP is the workshops we provide in the classroom and outside of the classroom. We do a lot of in-class presentations
and it is so good to hear students responses after the presentations are complete. It reassures me that I know what I’m presenting, I know how to engage with students, and I understand the
curriculum before I present it. My other favorite thing about WLP is the sisterhood that it creates. I’ve been working with most of my peers since 2019 and every year, I learn something new
about each one of them. With all the events and activities that we do, it is sometimes hard to bond with my peers the way I would like to, but while doing the presentations and the various
activities, I do find joy in just being in their presence. I believe networking is important and I also believe building relationships with people you work alongside with is also important so this
sisterhood in WLP is something I will never take for granted.

Deaven Rector, Howard University School of Law, Class of 2024

My name is Deaven L Rector, and I graduated from Gardena High School in 2017, followed by Morehouse College in 2021. I am in my third year at Howard University School of Law, specializing in Education Law. Upon graduation next year and passing the California Bar, I am excited to join Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost LLP. As a junior associate at this premier California law firm, I will continue specializing in Education Law.

The Young Male Scholars’ (YMS) program has played a vital role in my journey. Before joining YMS while at Gardena High School, I had not considered pursuing a career in law or furthering any academic aspirations. Thanks to Dr. Hutchinson’s exceptional mentorship, I improved as a student, became a social engineer, and cultivated my overall character. YMS enabled me to embrace the world of academia and recognize the many untapped possibilities available to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. I am grateful to YMS for opening the door to a future I had previously not thought possible.

Lizette Tecuapetla, Cal Poly Pomona

My name is Lizette Tecuapetla, and I am 19 years old.  I am excited to express my sincere interest for the Lorraine Hansberry Humanist Scholarship, which I believe will be instrumental in helping me fill the financial gap of tuition costs. As a highly motivated and ambitious first-generation student pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at California State Polytechnic University–Pomona, I strongly believe that this scholarship will provide me with the financial support and resources I need to achieve my academic and career goals.

From a very early age, I wanted to make a difference in the lives of animals. One of the earliest memories I have that demonstrates this is the time when I was about 10 years old and I came across stray dogs and cats around the neighborhood.  I recall the feeling of wanting to help these innocent destitute animals by taking them all to my home. Having access to higher education allows me to convert those desires into reality. I aspire to become well-educated in the Biological Sciences to achieve my goal of pursuing a career in zoology.

As I take a moment to reflect on the opportunities I have been presented with by WLP, I think of the earliest days of when I first began working as an intern in 2021. Around the time when WLP was developing #Standing4BlackGirls task force demands I recall the distribution of research-based questions/topics amongst WLP student members.  I felt frustrated when I first began to navigate the web and conduct research because it was different from the quick-Google search questions I would investigate on my own for personal reasons. Research was a long process of back-and-forth inquiry through the web.  I lacked skills in this area at the time.  Looking back, I am very thankful to have been challenged and trusted with this kind of work.  I did not realize how helpful it would be for me in the long run to develop those skills but as I further my studies and conduct more research-based assignments in college it seems to be an easier task since I have had several opportunities to strengthen this skill with WLP projects. Furthermore, I believe that WLP has served as a driving force and mentorship for me during my studies.  I say this because Dr. Hutchinson and Clay encourage students to pursue their dreams, and while this may seem like a very simple detail to others, to me these motivational conversations matter as they serve as support.  Receiving these encouraging messages allow one to have a more positive outlook.  For this reason, I give thanks to our WLP strong support system, Dr. Hutchinson and Clay.  I would like to thank the Lorraine Hansberry Humanist Scholarship committee and the Women’s Leadership Project for this amazing opportunity and for taking the time to read this statement.