Laurel House Social Work Racial Equity Scholarship recognizes three social work students

August 15, 2023

Students walking on quad

Three exceptional Master of Social Work (MSW) students have been recognized by the 2023 Laurel House Social Work Racial Equity Scholarship.

Daniella Brown, MSW ’24, was selected as the winner of the $10,000 scholarship, to use for tuition and school expenses. The scholarship program also provided awards of $1,000 to runner-up Natasha Holley, MSW ’25, and $500 to runner-up Thayrone Veloso, MSW ’24, to assist with school expenses.

Now in its second year, the goal of the Connecticut-based scholarship is to cultivate more Black and Latino social workers committed to social change and to increase access to mental health care treatment for communities of color.

Director of the Master of Social Work program at the School of Health Sciences, Carol Awasu, said the scholarship recognizes the need to encourage and support more Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) who will serve as social workers.

“We want to be able to attract these students and be able to prepare students so that they can provide and meet the tremendous need that’s out there,” said Awasu. “We’re so very grateful that Laurel House recognized not only the need but especially the quality and the depth of the students that we have; and decided to give us a full slate of scholarship winners this year.”

Brown said she was inspired to pursue a social work career due to her own experiences and extensive volunteer background working in her community. Brown has assisted organizations such as Foodshare alongside her mother, a first-generation immigrant.

“I was very honored and grateful to have been chosen for this scholarship,” said Brown. “I think that representation is important, especially with the world that we are living in now.”

Brown wants to put her MSW to work to pursue policies and practices which foster equality and demonstrate respect for social and cultural diversity.

“I want to create better changes for my community,” she said.

Brown selected Quinnipiac’s Master of Social Work program because of the opportunity to join as an advanced placement student. She also was attracted to the program’s holistic approach.

“Quinnipiac offers this program that incorporates a lot of things that I’m interested in,” said Brown. “Instead of focusing on one concentration, Quinnipiac incorporates all of that in one.”

Natasha Holley is a first-year generalist student in the Master of Social Work program.

“The scholarship was important to me because I feel like the minority community doesn’t have a lot of access to like-individuals in the social work field, who they can feel comfortable going to and can understand on a cultural level, and in general, some of the struggles that we may face that other races may not understand,” said Holley. “They may read about it or hear about it, but to live it first-hand makes it a little easier to relate to.”

As a social worker, Holley hopes to support the mental health needs of those in correctional facility settings to help reduce recidivism.

“When you’re incarcerated, you’re in a cycle,” said Holley. “You can either break the cycle or remain in the cycle. A social worker can help you get out of that cycle.”

Her long-term goal is to obtain her license in clinical social work and establish a therapy practice in a lower-income urban community.

As a single, working mother of two, Holley said the prize will assist her with paying for school. She’s also grateful for Quinnipiac’s reduced tuition for the Master of Social Work program.

“I think that is commendable, and I think that it’s going to make it even easier for future social work students who want to come to Quinnipiac,” said Holley.

Awasu said the affordable tuition of $750 per credit takes into consideration salary ranges currently on offer for practicing social workers.

“We are so grateful to the Provost and President for recognizing the need to have a tuition that is much more equitable to the earning power of the profession,” said Awasu. “All students benefit, but especially students who are not wealthy and cannot afford tuition without getting into debt. Quinnipiac has worked hard to ensure that we are making social work education accessible to all of our students.”

As a student in Quinnipiac’s Master of Social Work program, Veloso said he was proud to be recognized with a Laurel House Social Work Racial Equity prize.

“Being a Latino in a predominately white school, and being recognized as a future social worker, it just means the world,” said Veloso, who also intends to advocate for the LBGTQ+ community as a social worker.

“Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of people to look up to,” said Veloso. “A social worker that I met was also Latina, and she helped me a lot. I want to be that light for another kid of color. In my scholarship application, I mentioned that social workers are like a flashlight for our clients. We can help them understand what they’re feeling and going through, but we can’t push them out of a dark place if they aren’t ready or they aren’t prepared. The flashlight is guiding them each step out of that dark place.” 

More scholarship opportunities such as the Laurel House Social Work Racial Equity Scholarship are encouraged, Awasu noted.

“There’s a great need for scholarships to not only enable students of color to be able to apply, but also to help them get the wonderful education that we provide at Quinnipiac so that they can return to their communities and provide the social work that’s needed and the clinical care that’s needed,” said Awasu.


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