Committee Members

HVBR has assembled a fantastic Scholarship Committee to assist in reviewing applications and help choose this year’s recipients! Each of these individuals are brilliant, trustworthy, empathetic, and come from different backgrounds, walks of life and areas of expertise. We have no doubt they will bring a critical lens when reviewing applications.

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Monique Dunn, LCSW

Monique is a licensed clinical social worker who is passionate about utilizing evidence-based interventions with a person-centered approach in her work as a therapist. Monique is a graduate of the New York University (NYU) Silver School of Social Work where she received her Master’s degree in Social Work (2017). While obtaining her Master’s degree, Monique became part of the Students of Color Collective (SOCC), a supportive student group for minorities and went on to become president of SOCC where she facilitated support groups for students to share their experiences on campus with one another and create a sense of community. Prior to her studies at NYU, Monique trained as a counselor at the University of Nottingham, England (2015) and worked in schools providing therapy to students. Monique is now working as a therapist in Houston, Texas. In addition to this role, Monique has worked as an adjunct instructor at NYU’s Silver School of Social Work. Monique experienced first-hand some of the challenges that come with being a woman of color in higher education and wants to utilize her knowledge and skills to support the endeavors of Her Vaga Bound Roots and its scholarship recipients.

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Lauren Berry

Lauren is an academic advisor who has been in higher education for many years. She started out in Residential Life and transitioned to working as an academic advisor within a community college. She obtained a bachelor's degree in Government and International Politics. When she graduated from college she worked in the K-12 education system as admin support. She then decided that she needed to go on and obtain her master's degree to reach the professional goals that she had in mind. Lauren then went on to obtain a Master's in Higher Education at a large land grant institution. Lauren understands the importance of education and how education can impact womxn and marginalized identities. 


Lauren has loved the  opportunity to be involved in her communities as a reading volunteer, a mentor and also an active community member. Lauren enjoys spending time reading, listening to music and dancing. She also has a personal goal to go back to school and work on obtaining skills in Calculus. She hasn't always done well in math and wants to work on that skill. 


Carolyn Almonte, LCSW

Carolyn graduated with her Masters of Social Work from New York University in 2017. After NYU, Carolyn returned to Maryland to work in the very same community she was raised. Carolyn has been working in high schools serving youth and their families as a Bilingual Clinical Counselor. Carolyn has a strong passion for working with youth in her community, especially immigrant youth, to help dismantle and overcome the barriers placed and designed to have them fail. Besides her passion for social justice, Carolyn enjoys traveling! But until Carolyn can travel again, baking has become her newest hobby. Fun fact about Carolyn: she hates chocolate but can make the best brownies (taste tested and confirmed by the chocolate lovers in her family)! 


Fanny Sesay Yankay, LCSW

Fanny was born and raised in Jersey City. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Rutgers University Newark and he M.S.W at New York University. Fanny is a fearless black woman who is invested in black liberation. Fanny is passionate about  fighting for social justice and helping young people move through the world. Fanny is currently the adolescent social worker at the pediatric clinic at NYP Cornell and in her spare time she enjoys binge watching Netflix, political dramas, & spending time with her fiancé. To get in touch with Fanny, fannysesay94@gmail.com.


Gustavo Orellana


Gustavo is the Residential College Coordinator at the University of Southern California (USC). He was born and raised in Northern California. Gustavo received a B.A. in Chicano/a Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara and graduated with a Masters in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs from the Rossier School of Education here at USC. Through the previous professional experiences as an Assistant Resident Director at UCSB and a Resident Director at the Academy of Art University, Gustavo developed a passion in working with high caliber, passionate and dedicated students and cherishes the new challenges that each day brings in working with college aged students. Some of his passions outside of work include exploring different parts of Los Angeles (especially through food), sporting events, and all things Bay Area!


Priscilla Guzman


Priscilla is a Human Resources Professional who aims to humanize impersonal systems and continuously improve employee engagement, development, and retention. Priscilla received her Professional in Human Resources Certification in 2019 and graduated from California State University Northridge with a B.A. in Communication Studies. She is passionate about people and creating a culture that is inclusive and diverse. Priscilla was born and raised in Los Angeles. Her background also includes working with young adolescents and how their school environment influences their health behaviors and attitudes. In her free time, Priscilla loves to travel, try new foods and is a huge animal lover.