Awardees of MHARI’s First Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Scholarship

Melissa Mejia and Kimberly Bello
Rhode Island College Impact

RIC students are helping to diversify the field of mental health in Rhode Island.

Two RIC graduate students – Melissa Mejia Montero, a clinical mental health counseling major, and Kimberly Bello, a master of social work major – have been named the first recipients of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Behavioral Healthcare Scholarship by the Mental Health Association of Rhode Island (MHARI). Each will receive a tuition award of $10,000.

This scholarship program is a partnership between MHARI, the United Way and Rhode Island College to help increase the availability of mental health providers from diverse backgrounds practicing in Rhode Island.

On being named an awardee, Montero stated, “It is difficult for me to put into words how much this means to me. I decided to go into the field of mental health because of the lack of diversity, the lack of access and to hopefully de-stigmatize mental health as a whole in my community and to give people from my community who look like me the encouragement they may need to seek treatment or pursue a career like this. Therefore, this scholarship means more than just paying for my tuition, it means that my goals for the future are one step closer.”

Kimberly Bello also shared, “I am honored to have been selected for MHARI’s Bridging the Divide: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Behavioral Healthcare Scholarship. With this help, I will finish my M.S.W. and become an LCSW in May 2023.” Kimberly added, “I plan to continue my education and research on autism spectrum disorder and receive my Ph.D. My experiences with mental health and trauma have empowered me to provide the same help I received as a child to other children and families. I hope to be able to represent and push forward diversity and equity principles for the future of social work.”