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Announcing the Latest Recipients of the Pathways Program White-McGhee-Sims & Ron and Nancy Reed Scholarships

January 28, 2021

The White-McGhee-Sims and Ron & Nancy Reed Scholarships are generous, endowed scholarships that allow People Incorporated to support Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color enrolled in a Master’s level program to support families, such as social work, psychology, marriage and family, etc.

This year, People Incorporated will support three individuals with monthly stipends while they pursue their degrees. Learn more about our three scholarship recipients, Parastoo Semsarilar, Farhia Aden, and Aleshia Collins. Congratulations to these fantastic team members!

Parastoo Semsarilar – St. Mary’s University, Master’s in Counseling and Psychological Services

My long term goal is to be a licensed clinical counselor and I like to work with individuals struggling with depression, anxiety and PTSD. I am going to pursue licensure after graduation and I like to be an LPCC three years from now.

I moved from Iran to the United States five years ago with a degree in psychology and I have always had the passion to be a psychologist or counselor to help people in their tough times. When I moved to the U.S., I gave up pursuing my passion because I thought it wasn’t going to work for me considering coming from a different culture with a different language, so I took a semester off from Saint Mary’s to be able to look for other programs that are not really culture related. I decided to go with a dental hygiene program which, in my opinion, has minimum client contact. I got accepted in that program but before starting the classes, I just realized if I do that, I would never be able to be who I really want and being a dental hygienist is not what makes me satisfied so I went back to the counseling program at Saint Mary’s to complete my Master’s. I decided to complete the program slower than other students and work at the same time to get to know more about western culture and also improve my English skills. I am still struggling but I could never be happier than today because I am on the right path and I am going for what has always been my passion – being a helper! I consider this big decision my biggest achievement.


Farhia Aden – St. Mary’s University, Master’s in Counseling and Psychological Services

Over the next five years, I want to gain a deeper understanding of clinical psychology and build a list of clients. Within the next decade, I want to start my own clinical company back in my country in hopes of helping people. However, first I want to gain experience as a therapist and supervisor with a large company like People Incorporated. I plan on gaining additional skills by taking related classes and continuing my involvement with a variety of professional associations.

I was born and raised in Somalia and moved to America when I was in middle school. I am the oldest and the first to go to college so there were lots of responsibilities on my shoulders as I had to show my siblings not to give up on college education. I have graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and doing my Master’s in Counseling and Psychological Services. I am applying for a PsyD program in the next couple of months and plan to go back to my country in hopes of opening a clinic to help people with mental health problems.


Aleshia Collins – Capella University, Master’s in Clinical Social Work

My long term goal is to help create social change and systemic barriers through education and service. I would like to be a medical social worker, social scientist and/or a professor in education. I will achieve this by obtaining my MSW and licensure. While studying in the master’s program, I hope to develop the education and skill set needed in order to reach my goals. I want to become an effective and innovative professional who can provide effective education and prevention services for individuals and families through services that I can provide. I want to become an individual of high moral and ethical standards who functions as a change agent in my community.

I have a BS in psychology and a minor in public relations. I will be graduating with my MSW from Capella University next spring and will pursue my LICSW. As an African American woman, I chose social work because of my passion for social justice and creating a change that leads to equality for all. Daily, I observe the lack of mental health support that I have seen in my community due to oppression, cultural beliefs, and stigmatism. The challenge for communities of color and healthcare providers is defining what a healthy community looks like through the prisms of stigma and historical adversity, including race-based exclusion from health, educational, social, and economic resources.

I completed 400 hours within a five-month span as an intern at Anchor House while working full time as a mental health and CADI Waiver case manager (CMII). I am also the current co-chair of the EDI committee at People Incorporated (in addition to working full time and completing my internship). I decided to complete my internship at People Incorporated because the organization values the voice, dignity and respect of an individual. In addition, People Incorporated values a team-oriented environment supported by continuing learning. People Incorporated’s values align with my professional values founded by the National Social Work Code of Ethics. As a social worker, I value service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence. My strengths within my passion for social change and justice. I continue to grow and learn about ways to fight for social change. I want to keep growing my leadership skills so that I may continue to have an impact on systemic issues on the micro, macro, and mezzo level of social work.