Amaya Rodriguez has been selected as the 2023 recipient of the Lebanon County NAACP Diversity Scholarship. This was the first year the scholarship was offered.

The one-time, non-renewable $1,000 scholarship aims to assist a deserving senior of color with their post-secondary education expenses. Among the nine applicants, Rodriguez’s essay on the challenges of diversity and her future was chosen for the award.

Her essay responded to a prompt that excerpted Brown Girl Dreaming by National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson: “Diversity is about all of us and about us having to figure out how to walk through this world together.”

Rodriguez discussed overcoming personal adversities, including systemic racism, and her continued efforts to navigate the world despite her challenges.

“My identities intersect with many different groups who experience racial, sexual, class, and ability-related oppression,” wrote Rodriguez. “I am a Queer, multi-racial, native, Latinx, homeless child of a deaf parent. I was raised in an abusive environment and am a survivor of sexual abuse and sexual assault.”

“Systemic racism played a large role in my experiences. Because of my identities, I need to work even harder to walk through this world and overcome my challenges.”

The award selection was also influenced by a recommendation from Alissa Perrotto, president and CEO of the Sexual Assault Resource and Counseling Center (SARCC).

“Amaya is a living, breathing example of the power of young women of color to overcome barriers and challenges while holding systems accountable,” said Perrotto. “I know that Amaya will accomplish great things. I also know that this scholarship will help her get there.”

In November 2022, Rodriguez was one of six recipients of a Governor’s Victim Service Pathfinder Award, the most prestigious award that Pennsylvania gives to a victim service professional or program. Rodriguez was recognized in part for her work planning a public Student Speak Out event at Monument Park with SARCC.

Read More: Local teen recognized with governor’s Pathfinder award for sex abuse activism

Rodriguez will be presented with her scholarship award at the Lebanon County NAACP’s Juneteenth Celebration on Saturday, June 17, at Monument Park in Lebanon.

Following her graduation from Commonwealth Charter Academy this spring, Rodriguez plans to study at Harrisburg Area Community College and subsequently enroll in the University of Pennsylvania, setting her sights on a career in criminal justice.

The Lebanon County Branch 26AA of the NAACP, chartered in February 2021, is part of the country’s largest and most prominent civil rights organization, counting more than 2 million members across over 2,200 units nationwide.

Read More: Lebanon County NAACP chapter earns national standing as fully fledged branch

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