Meet the Vagas With Degrees Scholarship Foundation scholarship recipients. Every year we receive countless applications; an impressive and extremely competitive pool of Undergrad, Graduate, and Doctoral students representing over 65 schools across 39 states. Our scholarship committee choose recipients based on the applicant's need, merit, additional aid received, personal insight/self-reflection, and the letter of support attached.


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Marithza Quiroz, (She/They)
B.A. American Studies

Currently attending: MS Learning, Design & Technology

Stanford University



I am incredibly grateful for your support. The search for financial support as an undocumented grad student has been difficult but I am excited at what I can accomplish at Stanford. Thank you for your vote of confidence in me and my work."

Excerpt from application essay:

“My learning comes from formal  and informal settings as well as a lifetime navigating social and institutional barriers. The more I  embrace my experiences, the more I appreciate the richness in the experiences of others. This  has led me to engage in academic and creative work that highlights the voices of those impacted  by - and often excluded from - the design and research process. Diversity matters because, as  non-traditional students, and as students who come from diverse backgrounds, we bring new  perspectives into our work".

Marithza has a tremendous passion and commitment to social justice, including finding innovative ways to use their advanced degree towards mitigating barriers for those who are undocumented. She’s utilized storytelling as a tool, creating a comic strip of her life (see here) as well as uplifting the voices in support of immigrant folks in the community.



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Gabrielle Smith, MS Ed. (She/Her/Hers)

Old Dominion University

Higher Education Phd Program 


I would not be where I am without the support from others. My journey has been unconventional, yet so fulfilling. Receiving this scholarship is yet another push to keep going as well as confirmation and acknowledgement that I am exactly where I need to be. I am so grateful for this award to help fund my education. Each facet of support helps me to keep charging toward total liberation and systemic change. Thank you to the committee for seeing me wholly and investing in my future”.


Excerpt from application essay:

“Far too often, I hear the word diversity as an absolute, end goal, or a task to complete. In higher education diversity has been a buzzword and a suggested panacea for college campuses. Meanwhile, changing institutional policies for marginalized students and equity is not prioritized. As colleges continue to cultivate and develop future leaders and citizens, the campus population cannot be satisfied with just enrollment quotas, increased representation, and other acute social justice practices. To make systemic change, there has to be an ongoing listening, learning, and unlearning process to ensure an affirming, resourceful, opportunity-filled, and equitable experience for minority students. Challenging everyone to think beyond diversity reimagines what the future could look like for college environments, ultimately influencing the world. Diversity should spark the conversation, but never be the last word”.


Brittney R. Davis, M.A.Ed. (She/her/hers)

University of Miami

Ph.D. in Community Well-Being


I am honored to have received not only this award but a reaffirmation of the inherent power in living authentically and in speaking my truth. Doing so has cost me a lot, but I have found abundant rewards in myself, in those who have provided their steadfast support, and in my community that has inspired me through its strength, resilience, and collective restoration. This scholarship enables me to pay those rewards forward in providing needed financial support of my research and practice within minoritized communities.”

Excerpt from application essay:

“When colleges and other institutions and organizations at a minimum create a physical space where marginalized individuals can safely gather and engage in collective restorative practices, the healing I experienced and continue to carry with me can occur through shared connections and the understanding that we do not traverse this tough road alone. While radically upheaving the systems and structures that necessitate these spaces has the potential for larger transformative change for the most marginalized in our society at large, I must acknowledge the significant change that occurred in my life just by accessing the spaces carved out specifically for supporting Queer-identified individuals at my university. Undoubtedly, diversity matters because feeling valued and safe should be an uncompromisable human right. Beyond this, even the smallest commitment to granting that right to those who exist outside of the dominant construction of society can save lives. It saved mine”


Nangeli Abigail Alcantar (She, her, hers)

University of Washington

Master of Social Work


It’s hard to put into words what this scholarship means to me. I think it’s safe to say that it offers me a sense of validation, that my hard work has not gone unnoticed. It gives me an opportunity to continue to pursue my dreams, and takes a bit of the financial burden off my shoulders. Thank you so much Vaga With Degrees scholarship committee. Thank you for believing in me and helping this first-gen Latina be the first in her family to attend graduate school.”


Excerpt from application essay:

“With diversity, we can combat and diminish all forms of discrimination. The idea is that with continuous contact and exposure to others who hold different upbringings and cultures, individuals will come to realize that they have commonality. These introductions can help to facilitate acceptance and target common misconceptions and prejudice that often fuels forms of discrimination. It also increases productivity and bolsters richer ideas that can lead to innovation and creativity. It’s especially true in areas that are all about learning, creating and sharing ideas such as educational settings or workforce development”.


Breanna Gomez (She/her/hers)

University of California, Los Angeles

Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience


This scholarship is very important to me because I will be putting it towards taking the MCAT. This entrance exam is one of the many financial barriers that leaves out low income students from the medical field, so for this organization to help me overcome it is a relief and a blessing. It’s an affirmation that I am enough to be on this path and need to continue, in order to give back to the communities that help me get there.”

Excerpt from application essay:

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that there is a need for more diversity on my campus and in every field of work across the globe. The Black Lives Matter movement has recently brought to light how many people and practices in our world are systemically racist and anti-black, yet have been hidden for so long. Any profession that holds power needs to be occupied by a diverse set of people that can understand and communicate different experiences, cultures and privileges.”


Sarahy Torres (She/Her/Hers)

University of California, Los Angeles 

Incoming Freshman


This scholarship means the world to me and my parents! I am grateful and humbled to be given this scholarship. Thank you Her Vaga Bound Roots for believing in me and my dreams”

Excerpt from application essay:

"Black and Brown folks are some of the strongest people in this world who struggle daily to fit in society. My mother who is an immigrant struggles to fit in a society that under-represents her by taking her money without providing her a day off with pay. My mother and my extended family come from a long line of farmworkers who work ten-hour shifts to provide food on the table and a roof for their children. My mother who works extensively is discriminated against by the city and country who do not know her and put prejudices and biases on her. We as a country must unite all ethnicities and identities."