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Scholarship Profiles

Learn more about our previous recipients!


Leslie Gaytan-Lome

2021 Zone 7 Scholarship Winner

Leslie, a graduate of Life Academy in Oakland, CA, was the recipient of the 2021 Zone 7 Scholarship. Leslie is utilizing this scholarship to pursue studies in psychology and law at the University of California, Merced. Growing up in a low-income household as an Afro-Latina woman, Leslie recognizes the power of education as a vehicle to uplift her community. Having personally observed the stigma around mental health issues and the impact of addressing them, she hopes to approach this difficult subject through both a personal and policy lens in her career. She aspires to touch the lives of those closest to her in her family and community, as well as lead initiatives for mental health awareness in broader society.

Reem Taleb

2022 Zone 7 Scholarship Winner

Reem, the winner of the 2022 Zone 7 Scholarship, graduated from Fremont High School in Oakland, CA. With Zone 7’s support, she is pursuing a premedical education at the University of California, Berkeley. Coming from a traditionalist background through her Yemeni immigrant family, Reem is deeply committed to combating oppressive systems, advocating for women’s health and education, and expanding healthcare access domestically and abroad. Though she has demonstrated independence from early on, Reem believes the Zone 7 Scholarship will enable her to do more inside and outside the classroom, stating that “this scholarship will open up opportunities to pursue more long-term goals, and help those who’d be going through the same issues as me.”

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Natasha James

2022 Valley of the Sun Scholarship Winner

Natasha was the recipient of the inaugural Valley of the Sun Scholarship in 2022. “Living and growing up on the Navajo reservation in northern Arizona gave me insight into the struggle and adversity of living in areas with no developed road, water, or electrical system,” she said. “In other words, how it is to live somewhere where there is a lack of advancement and development that benefits the people.” Through the Valley of the Sun Scholarship, Natasha is looking to graduate with a geological engineering degree from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She hopes to put this education towards a career in eradicating these systemic disparities in indigenous communities, beginning by restoring the infrastructure of her own reservation to improve public health and safety.

Rafael Pablo Calmo

2023 Zone 7 Scholarship Winner

Rafael, a graduate of Fremont High School in Oakland, CA, received our 2023 Zone 7 Scholarship. Raised in a single-parent, low-income household, Rafael is regularly reminded of the inequities that leave his community lagging behind in health, safety, economic development, infrastructure, and more. At the University of California, Davis, Rafael is pursuing his passion for electrical engineering as a means of public health and social justice in his hometown, yielding impacts in sustainable energy, healthcare delivery, and transportation innovation. He speaks powerfully of various local observations of adversity, crime, and violence during his adolescence that have called him to a career in restorative justice. “I see these things happen and think, why would that happen in a peaceful community?” he shares. “I want to create a safer, better environment where kids like my little brother can be comfortable, happy, and free of trauma. That starts from our community’s simplest foundations.” After graduation, he hopes to return to his native Oakland to build on just that.


Tayler Prince

2023 Valley of the Sun Scholarship Winner

Tayler was our 2023 Valley of the Sun Scholarship winner. In fact, she has traversed both of the communities close to us, having grown up initially in Oakland, CA and moved to Arizona in 7th grade. Sadly, Tayler was struck by tragedy from a young age, when her mother died from an overdose when she was just 7 years old. However, she turned to a school counselor for help overcoming this tragedy, and the impact of this individual on her life was profound. To this day, this experience motivates Tayler, as she pursues an advanced education so that she can become a counselor and have the same impact. “(My counselor) made me feel like it wasn’t my fault my mom had passed away,” she says. “I want to help kids like me and actually be able to relate to them.” Her endeavors start off with an undergraduate education at Jackson State University in Mississippi, with hopes to later obtain a graduate degree.

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