Congratulations to Our 2024 Lorraine Hansberry Humanist Scholarship Awardees!

Esther Abraham, UCLA

My name is Esther Divine Ijeoma Abraham, and I am an alumnus of King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science Class 2024. I will be attending the University of California Los Angeles in the upcoming fall as a neuroscience major on the Pre-med track. I am an aspiring Neurosurgeon and I wish to travel the world doing research on the brain and performing surgery on underfunded communities. There was a time when I did not understand the purpose of activism. When I heard the Women’s Leadership Project (WLP) was using the library on Wednesdays during lunch, I was irritated. The library was my haven away from the clustered clamor of the quad. I was asked if I was there for the WLP meeting, and instinctively said, “Yes.” I never knew that one word could change my world. Through WLP, I was able to facilitate rallies for missing and murdered women, speak on our podcast, Virtual Homegirl, attend a table LGBTQ+ rally, and intern with Standing4BlackGirls. As Vice President, I was able to draw in members and watched as every week, I pulled more chairs up for young girls to learn about what it means for leaders. I have helped facilitate our policy-making forum, where we talked to our school’s seniors about the importance of voting locally and how to read and understand policies. I climbed the spiraled strenuous stairs to Mr. Zajc’s classroom to teach 9th-grade health classes about relationships, mental health, human trafficking, dismantling violence, effective communication, and sexual education. WLP transformed me from the little girl who was told to stay quiet, and an observer, a bystander, in the face of injustice, into an activist who has marched hand in hand to stand for our communities. The community and love that WLP showed me in my times of desperation and the critical role my experiences in WLP played in my college applications will never be forgotten. For that reason, I will continue to work with WLP as an activist, a student, and a teacher to other youth who have not yet found their voice.

Vanessa Chavarin, UCLA

Hello, my name is Vanessa Alejandra Chavarin and I recently graduated from King Drew Magnet High School. I plan to attend the University of Las Angeles (UCLA) in the fall. I hope that with discipline and guidance down the right path I will be able to pursue a career in the medical field as a neurologist. Thanks to WLP, I have enhanced my confidence in speaking in front of people and my knowledge regarding current issues happening around the world. I will always recall my first presentation in the oral Arts room in 5th period, where we spoke in front of two classes about the upcoming election and how it can affect the world we know today. That day I felt extremely enlightened and proud of myself!

Thanks to WLP, I also learned more about healthy and unhealthy relationships. The presentations we did in front of classes truly helped me bring knowledge on toxic relationships to others, but also myself. Overall WLP helped shape me into the young woman I am today, and without their guidance I wouldn’t know the variety of things that I know today! Thank you, WLP, thank you!

Lizette Landu Nsilu, El Camino College

Hello everyone! My name is Lizette Nsilu. I’m 19 years old, a King/Drew alumna, and the former secretary of WLP. This fall, I will begin my second year at El Camino College, majoring in Business. After completing my prerequisites at El Camino, I plan to transfer to Cal State Dominguez Hills to receive my Bachelor’s degree in Finance, as I aspire to be a financial consultant or an investment banker. The Women’s Leadership Project has been pivotal not only to my educational journey but also to my personal growth. It has educated me on social injustice issues faced by Black women and girls in Los Angeles that are often underrepresented in mainstream media. With this knowledge, I have become more aware of the issues around me and have been actively informing others. This includes those directly affected by these issues and those in positions of power who can address and make change like council members in CD8. WLP and I have marched to a council member’s office, spoken publicly in front of their office about these issues, presented stories of our wrongfully fallen sisters and victims of sexual violence, and proposed demands to reduce these rates. Over the past two years with WLP, I have written articles, spoken on the KPFK Rebel Alliance news channel, participated in rallies, educated, mentored, and engaged in numerous other activities. I am extremely grateful for the education, resources, and support that the Women’s Leadership Project has provided me and I would like to sincerely thank the Lorraine Hansberry Scholarship for supporting me in achieving my current goals and future endeavors.

Brianna Parnell, Santa Monica College

My name is Brianna Simone Parnell. I am 23 years old, and I am a graduate of Gardena Senior High class of 2019. I am a second year student at Santa Monica College. An academic aspiration of mine is to graduate with a degree in Interior Architecture and then be able to use that degree in a professional environment. WLP has been a huge part of my personal, and academic journey since high school through college. I has provided me with resources such as internships and scholarships that have helped me along the way. Personally, I’ve been able to hone in on my leadership capabilities by becoming a leader in the #Standing4BlackGirls Coalition. Being able to facilitate the rallies in Leimert Park against rape culture and domestic violence have brought me closer to my community over the years. I’ve also grown in my personal journey by participating in speaking engagements with the Amaad Institute and co-facilitating the LGBTQIA+ Youth of Color Institutes. In doing those things, I’ve been able to learn more about my queer identity and the queer community that supports it. It is through events and programs like these that I let me know that I am fulfilling my purpose in life. Thank you WLP and thank you to the donors who make it possible for us to do this work.

Ashantee Polk, El Camino College

My name is Ashantee Polk. I’m a 21 year old, King-Drew Magnet High School graduate of 2020. I am currently going to El Camino College where this will be my second semester starting this summer and my last semester is scheduled for June 2025. I plan to transfer to CSULB to obtain my bachelors in Psychology and a Masters in either Psychology or Behavioral Sciences.  I’d like to pursue a doctorate in Psychology and eventually open up my own practice.  WLP has helped me pick my major in many ways. I’ve been working with young people since 2019 with WLP. I’ve been able to mentor classes under me within and out of WLP, and WLP has helped me become a better public speaker. WLP’s annual LGBTQ+ Youth of Color Institute is one of those events that have made me become a better public speaker and leader. Another of my favorite events is the political forum that happens every November.

WLP would like to express appreciation to our donor sponsors, the Carrie and Ellie Harrington Fund, the Freedom From Religion Foundation and Atheists United! Scholarship awardees receive between $200-$1000 for their racial and gender justice community service, peer education and organizing engagement during their high school and college careers.