VFP Awards $1,500 to four Peace Scholarship Recipients

This year, Veterans for Peace in Gainesville is pleased to award four $1,500 Peace Scholarship awards, a college scholarship program for Alachua County students. The scholarship competition was open to eligible high school seniors, college students, and adults who need financial support to succeed in college and who have demonstrated a commitment and leadership in activities involving peace and social justice and/or nonviolent social change.

Peace scholarship applicants were asked to provide a brief autobiographical statement and evidence of leadership and/or personal initiative in activities in an organization (including volunteer or paid work) relating to peace and social justice, conflict resolution and/or nonviolent social change. Applicants were also asked to provide two letters of recommendation. In the end, VFP awarded peace scholarships to four students in the amount of $1,500 each. The scholarships were awarded to:

Miryam Elshaer
Miryam is a double major in Political Science and Women’s Studies at the University of Florida. She is a member of Students for Justice in Palestine, Dream Defenders, and is President of Pride Student Union.  Through her position on the anti-racist and trans liberation committee of National Women’s Liberation, Miryam works to educate people about the importance of Queer and Trans intersections in social justice organizing. Her goal is to become a social movement lawyer. She writes, “I do not believe in using the law to solve issues in the traditional way that strips people of individual power. Rather, change is created by the resistance of the people.”

Isabella Macias
Isabella is first-generation college student. She is currently a second-year astrophysics major at the University of Florida. She served as a student ambassador with the UnidosNow a non-profit organization on their voter education initiative. The goal of Isabella’s work was to encourage first-generation Latinx voters to participate in the 2020 general election and to spread the urgency of the need to vote. She worked especially with young women, predominantly Latinas—to help their peers and family members learn about how to most effectively participate in the political process. Isabella’s goal is to pursue a career as an Astrophysicist at NASA and to encourage more women of color to pursue STEM-related careers.

Bryanna Michell
Bryanna is a graduate of Eastside High School in Gainesville. She is also a graduate of the Dual Enrollment Program at Santa Fe College. Bryanna is double majoring in Women’s Studies and Psychology at UF. She is an active member of the Wellness, Equity, Love, Liberation and Sexuality Healing and Research Collective where she is especially concerned with promoting liberation among African American and the LGBTQ+ community. Bryanna plans to deepen her research into medical and health disparities in working class communities. She is especially concerned with educating middle class people about the issues that marginalized communities endure every day including food security, domestic violence, and economic justice. She plans to either attend a PhD program or law school in pursuit of a career dedicated to social justice.

Maria Monsserat de la Cruz Mora
Maria is a graduate of Newberry High School and is a Political Science major At the University of Florida. She a leader of CHISPAS at UF and has led workshops to help DACA and undocumented individuals in Alachua County who would like to pursue higher education. Maria is the co-Founder of RepresentMe, a political action committee in Newberry and she volunteers with the Alachua County Hispanic Democrats. “In my future career plans,” Maria writes, “I would like to remain here in Alachua County, specifically my hometown of Newberry after I graduate from UF in 2023. I would like to give back to the Latinx community. From my personal experience, I am a first-hand witness to the many disparities within the Hispanic community in Alachua County.”

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