Voices of Hope Launches Two Scholarship Awards
Students whose careers will likely lead them to interactions with rape and assault survivors now can apply for scholarship opportunities created through an organization founded by activist, author, speaker, and survivor Kristine Irwin.
Irwin, a Pittsburgh resident formerly from Johnstown, Pa., said she wants to address a shortage of individuals available to work with those who are experiencing trauma: therapists, nurses, mental health caregivers, and similar occupations. She also wants to continue to support people who have lived through rape and sexual assault, which is core to the mission of the Voices of Hope Fund she established at Community Foundation for the Alleghenies.
“The biggest thing we want to do through Voices of Hope is to provide resources and education for individuals who have experienced trauma, with a focus on people who have been through sexual violence, domestic violence, stalking, or abuse,” she said. “For a lot of students going into social work or psychology or other similar fields, there are so many financial burdens. On top of undergraduate tuition, they may need master’s degrees and licensures. Being able to help individuals who want to help those experiencing trauma or mental illness is so important to us at Voices of Hope.”
One of the scholarships will take the form of the Compassionate Roxanne Award in honor of an advocate that Victim Services appointed to help Irwin in the days after she was raped. This was a woman who was there to provide legal, medical, and emotional support during a time when Irwin had to give statements to police, return to the scene of the crime, and handle the emotional and physical stress and shock of what she had just experienced.
“I was in the depths of rock bottom, experiencing trauma, trying to navigate what was going to happen,” Irwin said.
Irwin said she reached out to Roxanne to thank her a year or two before Irwin’s book, “Voices of Hope,” was released. “I had a lot that I blocked out at that time in my life. It was a long time before I was able to follow up with her and tell her how much of a blessing she was to me.”
Another scholarship now available through the Voices of Hope Fund—the Unveil Your Voice Award—will recognize one high school senior every year, highlighting a young person who wants to make positive change and is headed into the human service field.
Through Voices of Hope, Irwin and others continue to organize fundraisers and campaigns, working to educate the public, prevent sexual violence, and help sexual assault survivors know they are not alone and that their voice matters. The scholarship opportunity stems from their ongoing fundraising efforts. More information on Voices of Hope is available at voices-of-hope.org. To find out more about the fund’s scholarship opportunities, or to apply, CLICK HERE.
For more information about the Unveil Your Voice Award or the Compassionate Roxanne Scholarship Award or any of our 275+ other scholarship funds, visit cfalleghenies.org/scholarships.