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Empowering the Future: Unveiling Our Exceptional 2023 Coco Scholars

In the spirit of nurturing leadership, impact, talent and community engagement, Coco Coalition is proud to announce the 2023 recipients of the Dereje Haile Scholarship, the Angela Heath Scholarship, and the Byron Lolita Scholarship. This year we received 300 scholarship applications from students all over the country. These outstanding individuals exemplify the core values of our scholarships, and we are thrilled to support their journeys. Read the bios of this year's scholars.


Coco Scholar Italy Lee

Dereje Haile Scholarship: Italy Ja’rae Lee

Italy Ja’rae Lee, at just 18 years old, stands as a shining example of artistic excellence. As the New Jersey State Champion of Poetry Out Loud in 2022, Italy has harnessed the power of poetry to advocate for arts education, diversity, and social justice. Currently pursuing her BFA in Drama at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, Italy continues to captivate audiences with her original poetry. Her commitment to initiating crucial conversations about arts education at events like the Call For Collaboration showcases her dedication to the arts and its transformative potential.



Coco Scholar Angela Abalo

Angela Heath Scholarship: Angela Abado

Hailing from Nairobi, Kenya, Angela Abado is the deserving recipient of the Angela Heath Scholarship. Angela's dedication to mental health advocacy, coupled with her studies in Psychology and involvement in various campus organizations, speaks volumes about her commitment to holistic healing approaches. Angela's journey as an artist, expressing herself through music and spoken poetry, aligns seamlessly with her passion for raising awareness about mental health. Her goal to become a Psychologist and transform the narrative of mental health in her home country reflects her unwavering dedication to creating positive change.



Coco Scholar Megan Mingo

Byron Lolita Scholarship: Megan Mingo

Inspired by the legacy of Jasmine McGee's parents, the Byron Lolita Scholarship finds its worthy recipient in Megan Mingo. A senior Sociology and African American Studies major at Loyola Marymount University, Megan has demonstrated a deep commitment to civil service and community engagement. Through her active participation in organizations like the Academic Community of Excellence and Black Student Union, Megan has worked tirelessly to uplift and support disenfranchised groups. We look forward to witnessing the impact Megan will undoubtedly make in the legal field, continuing the legacy of her scholarship's namesakes.


As we celebrate these remarkable individuals, we extend our heartfelt congratulations to Italy Ja’rae Lee, Angela Abado, and Megan Mingo. Your dedication to your craft and your communities is truly inspiring, and we are honored to be part of your journey towards a brighter future.

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