The Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship supports the educational pursuits of young people who demonstrate an active commitment to fighting AIDS by taking on roles of public service and leadership, and who plan to continue to find ways to make a difference in the epidemic through their careers or through public service opportunities after their education is complete. Since 2009, the program has awarded a total of $100,000 in scholarships to 40 ‘young leaders’ in the fight against AIDS and we are proud to feature our 2015 scholarship recipients below.
Raymond Jackson is currently working on his associate’s degree in Social Science: Psychology at Essex County College, and intends to further his studies and attain a bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Rutgers University, with a minor in Philosophy. Raymond’s goal is to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Psychology Health Department, exploring the mental side of HIV infected individuals. In addition, he works as activate President of Project (WOW) leadership group called I.M.P.A.C.T.T, where he has the opportunity to share his personal story of living with HIV and inform his peers of the importance of protecting themselves.
Adrian Nava is a third year student at the University of Denver, in Denver Colorado. He plans on completing his B.A in International Studies and Sociology, then applying to law school, in order to go back into his home town and serve his community. In the future, Adrian plans on working in the non-profit sector, and focusing on health and access to health services for LGBT people and people of color. Adrian has worked in the sexual health field for 5 years and continues to do work around sexual health at state, and national levels. Adrian’s connection to HIV/AIDS is a personal one: As one who has experienced discrimination based on perceived or known sexual orientation, he realizes that the stigma around HIV/AIDS is still present in the American culture, and that his work is shaped by his story, and the stories of those around him.
Uzo Okoro is a senior at Brown University majoring in Public Health. Upon graduation, she will attend The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University to pursue her medical degree. She was selected by Advocates for Youth to be a Youth Ambassador for NYHAAD, National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, in order to promote a message of prevention, treatment, care, and youth empowerment. In addition to hosting informal events and circulating petitions, she used countless forms of social media to amplify the voice of HIV+ survivors. She also had the unique opportunity to speak at a Congressional Briefing regarding the importance of NYHAAD, discussing the significance of youth advocacy, participation, and engagement in the fight against HIV/AIDS. At Brown University, she is also a lead coordinator of the Sexual Health Awareness Group (SHAG). As a student leader, she participates in sexual peer education, which includes hosting inclusive workshops about sexuality, gender identities, pregnancy/STD prevention, healthy relationships, communication, consent, and various other issues relating to sex and health. She is also currently conducting research through her university about HIV/AIDS. Her research project, titled Alcohol and Sexual Risk Behaviors in Nigeria: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, 1997-2014, focuses on the prevalence and relationship between HIV/AIDS and other sexual risk behaviors, including alcohol. While she values the power of research in the fight against HIV/AIDS, she is also motivated to continue her participation in community health by applying for a Master’s of Science in Primary Care and Population Medicine at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.
Abdon Orrostieta is a junior at the university of central Florida. He volunteers with Latino Salud, a non-profit community- and minority-based HIV agency that provides HIV rapid testing and linkage services making Ryan White support and other medical services accessible to HIV-positive individuals. He is also a member of the Health Awareness and Prevention Society, which promotes increased awareness and healthy living through education and preventation, and plans to incorporate what he has learned through his involvement with HAPS and Latino Salud into his future professional endeavors. Abdon is passionate about being out on the streets promoting safe sex, and teaching Hispanics and African Americans the importance of HIV status awareness and open communication about the importance of safe sex practices, and ultimately aspires to become a physician and treat HIV patients.
Shira Smillie is a sophomore at the University of Richmond where she is double majoring in American Studies and Latin American Latino and Iberian Studies. Her concentration in American Studies focuses on the intersections of identity, poverty, power and privilege in the United States. Since 2013, Shira has worked at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing on a Centers for Disease Control funded HIV/STI prevention program for Black youth with mental illness. Her responsibilities on this project included facilitating focus groups, outreach for the program, recruiting youth at different mental health sites throughout Philadelphia, and compiling statistical data. Shira is committed to a life of giving back to others and social justice.
Manuel Venegas is a 23 year old, first-generation Mexican-American college student. Receiving this award will help him achieve his goal of finishing up his undergraduate studies in Latin American & Caribbean Studies with an emphasis on Global Health. He wants to use his native language of Spanish to help out his community abroad where HIV & AIDS are still an epidemic. His background in public policy, community organizing and mobilization are just some key factors that come into play when he advocates for HIV & AIDS at the community, state, and national level. As a third-year student at the University of Washington, he hopes to expand his influence to an international level. As a mayoral appointment to the City of Seattle LGBT Commission, he hopes to further strengthen his voice as a community advocate and leverage his perspective as person openly living with HIV.