About

The One Day You Will Live Scholarship was createdto support and create life-changing opportunities for mental health and wellness. Read the story below.

 The Story

The conception of this scholarship foundation began in 2020 with a dinner party to celebrate Whitney’s life and to give back hope to those who struggle with depression and suicidal ideation. 10 years prior, during her sophomore year in college, she was diagnosed with PTSD and MDD, and it was devastating. Whitney attempted suicide but her life didn’t end. She uses this experience to fuel the work she does in the community. While Whitney has done so much work to emphasize the importance of mental health treatment and access to quality and culturally competent services within her community she did even more work within herself to achieve true wellness. Whitney is most proud of the beautiful lives, relationships, and memoriesshe created.

There are so many people who battle this invisible illness. It’s so “normal” that we do not realize the negative effects until it is too late. We aim to assist with financial barriers to moving forward. Battling Mental Illness while attending school is tough and often the consequence is losing your funding. This Scholarship’s purpose is to provide hope to those who are suffering from Mental Illness and Suicidal Ideation. Experiencing trauma has stolen so many opportunities from you, Your Future belongs to you.

During her Celebration of Life, Whitney was able to raise $1,000! She received this as a calling to do more. What an Impact! Whitney organized an amazing team, with many skill sets and knowledge bases, in order to continue her efforts to give back and create life-changing opportunities. Each of the Board members are a living testament to this cause. Representation is important, having lived experiences provides us the ability to cater our requirements to remove any further hurdles to applying or staying in school.

Meet the Scholarship Committee

Whitney Dodds

FOUNDER

Whitney Dodds is the founder of Wellness for the Culture, a mental health practicein Springfield, MA. She has obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, as well as a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from American International College. Whitney is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Connecticut and a licensed mental health counselor in Massachusetts. Whitney is passionate about the well-being of people. 

She is reaching people through her blog, community events, and therapeutic book club.Her desire to begin building her practice is derived from witnessing the cultural needsof her community. Whitney’s mission is to motivate, uplift, and educate people throughmental health services. Her approach is tailor-made to encourage engagement, within her community, all the while dismantling the cultural stigma that hinders black and brownpeople from receiving treatment.

Indira Dejesus

SCHOLARSHIP COMMITTEE

Indira Dejesus, serving as the chair of the scholarship committee, is a licensed school counselor at Central High School in Springfield, MA. Ms. Dejesus holds a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Masters in Educational Psychology from American International College.

Prior to serving as a school counselor, Ms. Dejesus worked as a city-wide Graduation Coach for grades 9-10 and as an engagement specialist for students who had dropped out of high school. This experience allowed Indira to support hundreds of off-track students in earning their High School Diploma and pursue their post-secondary goals.Ms. Dejesus is currently a success coach for the 100 Males to College Initiative. Ms. Dejesus is passionate about helping young adults use their voice to transform their community. As a school counselor, Indira not only mentors students but also strives toset an example of perseverance as a Dominican-American woman native to Springfield and Graduate of Springfield Public Schools (Go, Commerce Red Raiders!)

Cassandra Gadson

SCHOLARSHIP COMMITTEE

Cassandra Gadson is a Springfield native and graduate of The High School of Commerce. Cassi is the published author of “ The Adventures of Daveon Lee andFriends” a children’s novel that breaks down Christian faith to empower and equip them with an understanding they can apply to their lives. Cassi is an entrepreneur,she is the owner of CassiCakes and the podcast host of “Thorns and Vines”, where she utilizes transparency to break down biblical principles to make them accessible to all believers. She believes with faith and a plan you can accomplish anything. Cassi has partnered with this wonderful committee because she too isa living testament to “One Day You Will Live”. She aspires to make sure that people don’t just hear it but believe it.

Tiffany Liddell

SCHOLARSHIP COMMITTEE

Tiffany Liddell is a native of Springfield, MA. She graduated from Commerce High School in 2006. Tiffany received her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Social Work from Westfield State University. Tiffany has 10 years of work experience in the mental health field, working with children and families. Tiffany is currently a City Connect Coordinator for Springfield Public Schools, where she assists youth and families with getting both community services and supports in school. Tiffany’s one goal and passion is to help youth and families thrive in this world. She is married to Reverend Jeremy Liddell and they have adopted a terrier mix named Winston.

Stephanie Perez-Marrero

SCHOLARSHIP COMMITTEE

Stephanie Perez-Marrero was born and raised in Springfield, Ma. Stephanie has dedicated her career to helping others in any capacity. Stephanie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Human Services and is completing her Masters degree in Social Work. At the YWCA, Stephanie gained experience working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault as well as, case management for students working towards their Hi-Set in Youthbuild. Currently, Stephanie is working as an Intensive Care Coordinator for CBHI services in Springfield, MA. Stephanie connects families with the appropriate resources and providers. Her passion for mental health comes from having once been the client in desperate need of support, and working towards providing others with the resources she once desired to have for herself. Stephanie is married to David Wilson Jr. they have three kids together. After their daughter was diagnosed with Nephrotic Syndrome, Stephanie’s motivation to support others was ignited and that’s when she learned her story was not over. Stephanie hopes to help others breathe when they fall and rise again stronger than before.

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