2022 marked the 3rd year of the Coco Scholars program. The program was created to honor the passions of Coco’s Founders parents. The three scholarships are the Angela Heath Mental Health, Byron and Lolita Civic Engagement, and the Dereje Haile Arts Scholarship. This year we awarded three $1000 scholarships to women in pursuit of their Bachelor's degrees who currently show leadership in impacting their communities and are on a path to pursue careers in the areas of mental health, civic engagement, and the arts.
Meet this year's recipients
Angela Heath Mental Health Scholarship Recipient
Larissa is a rising Senior Honors Psychology student with a minor in Marketing at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University. She is constantly seeking opportunities to pour into her community and contribute to initiatives that are important to her. Outside of her work and studies, she likes to spend her free time reading personal development books and trying to fortify a growth mindset.
Larissa is deeply involved within her campus community as a member of student organizations like Not Just A Smile, A.S.C.E.N.D, The Black Bus, and the National Council of Negro Women. One of her many goals is to affect our community like that of the 1619 Project and podcasts like Homecoming, and The Shift Is Real. She hopes to provide the world with unadulterated truth on the effects of institutionalized white racism on Black American people and develop resources for my fellow psychotherapists and scientists to guide my community through overcoming them.
She plans to pursue a PhD. in Clinical Psychology and continue researching the mental and health effects of racial discrimination and race-based violence on minorities, specifically children. Her career aspirations are to transform the environment around mental health in communities of color, increase the resilience and fortitude of the Black community, and shed light on the dark history between Black and white people that some in our country have tried so hard to erase.
Byron + Lolita Civic Engagement Scholarship Recipient
Morgan Skinner is a graduating senior Political Science major with a Strategic Communications minor at Howard University. Morgan is quite involved on campus and currently serves as an upperclassman Resident Assistant. Additionally, she is the 2nd Vice President of the Howard University Pre-Law Chapter of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, International. Off-campus, as a passionate advocate for equitable healthcare, Morgan aims to represent those in marginalized communities who were silenced due to inadequate healthcare practices. She’s been a contributing author to a Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), and Queer digital publication, Chaos + Comrades, where she wrote about pertinent social issues pertaining to race, gender, and healthcare. Ultimately, she plans to carry these passions and experiences with her as she applies to law school this fall. She strives to combine her passions for medicine and law through a future career as a medical malpractice attorney, representing and advocating for vulnerable individuals mistreated and mishandled by the medical system.
Dereje Haile Arts Scholarship
Essence Thomas, 23, born in Hollywood, Florida, is a dancer, choreographer, poet, writer, mental health advocate , foster care advocate, and youth mentor. Essence is a first-generation undergraduate student currently pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree with a minor in Florida Teaching at The University of Florida. As a former foster and unaccompanied youth, she strives to use her identity, art, lived experiences, and past transgressions as fuel for healing and impactful change.Essence is very passionate about dance and its ability to empower and educate an audience. Through Free-Form, improvisational, and experimental contemporary movement styles, she incorporates storytelling in her work as a catalyst for authentic meaning making. Vulnerability, authenticity, and highly emotional states are at the forefront of Essence’s work. Through raw, unfiltered, and unapologetic expression, she hopes to symbolize the unapologetic nature of storytelling and authenticity. Through her creative practice, she hopes to inspire and motivate others to use their personal stories to promote resilience, shift paradigms, find purpose, and form testimonial breakthroughs through the gift of movement.In the future, Essence wants to become a dance educator, advocate, and teaching artist serving at-risk and marginalized youth in predominantly black communities.