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News 2 > Global Student Prize - Finalists > 2023 Finalists Global Student Prize > Zina Ogunnaya

Zina Ogunnaya

19 Jul 2023
United States of America
2023 Finalists Global Student Prize

Zina comes from an immigrant and low-income background, and is dedicated to making quality mental health care more accessible for young people. She actively engages in positive youth development opportunities with national nonprofit organizations, advocating for health equity. Zina serves as a youth activist trainer with Truth Initiative, working towards a smoke-free generation through tobacco control. Despite facing challenges as one of the few Black students in upper-division science courses at UC Berkeley, Zina is determined to address health disparities by diversifying the healthcare workforce and promoting health education through the lens of marginalized groups. 

Zina's academic achievements during the COVID-19 pandemic highlight her commitment to excellence. She excelled in psychology courses while working as a crisis counselor, demonstrating her dedication to mental health. Zina's efforts earned her straight As, a nomination for the Long Beach City College Dean's List with Great Distinction, and acceptance into Rutgers University's Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, where she received a presidential award for her service in community health. She strives to achieve academic excellence while making a positive impact in her community and gaining the necessary training to provide quality mental healthcare in underserved communities. 

Zina's impact on her student community is evident through her advocacy and leadership roles. As a student ambassador for the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley, she played a crucial role in collecting feedback and preserving the public health undergraduate major, benefiting students from diverse backgrounds. Additionally, Zina's work as a Community Healthcare Worker supported over 1,000 students by promoting physical, mental, and emotional well-being through practical health tips and access to support services. 

Through her involvement with Truth Initiative and Psyches of Color Inc., Zina promotes wider social change at local and national levels. She advocates for policy reform, addressing the impact of the tobacco industry on mental health and successfully contributing to the ban on flavored tobacco products in California and other states. Zina's work as a youth activist trainer has positively impacted over 20,000 young people, empowering them to engage in health advocacy and drive healthier outcomes in their communities. 

Despite significant barriers, including caring for her critically ill father, Zina remains determined to pursue her education and make a difference. She plans to attend Rutgers University while overcoming financial challenges, with the support of the Global Student Prize. Zina's creativity and innovation shine through her founding of OG Dance School for Healing Self LLC, providing free dance workshops that incorporate mental health discussions for underserved youth. This initiative aims to address the youth mental health crisis and connect young people to necessary resources for their well-being. 

If awarded the Global Student Prize, Zina intends to allocate a portion of the funds towards supporting her first year of doctoral education. The remaining funds would be used to provide scholarship opportunities and free dance classes through OG Dance School for Healing Self LLC, increasing representation in the mental healthcare workforce and improving access to quality care in underserved communities. 

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