2024 Barbara Agonia Empowerment Scholarship

The Women's Research Institute of Nevada (WRIN) and CSUN have teamed up to award 5 students with a $2,000 scholarship, consisting of a $1,000 stipend for the Fall 2024 semester and $1,000 stipend for Spring 2025. The Empowerment Scholarship recognizes undergraduate students who work to create and/or support initiatives that empower women and/or girls within the past year. The application is simple and online. You can apply yourself or nominate a friend.

Please use your unlv.nevada.edu email to fill out this form.

Questions? Contact wrin@unlv.edu or call 702-895-4931 for assistance.

*** 2024-2025 Scholarship Awardees will receive a $1,000 stipend in Fall Semester of 2024 and a $1,000 stipend in the 2025 Spring semester.

Applications for the 2024-2025 Scholarship is due March 31, 2024.

Previous Scholarship Awardees

Headshot of Melanie Azame

Melanie Azame

Melanie Azame is a first generation college student who is majoring in accounting with the goal of opening her own accounting firm after graduation. She is currently secretary for the Lee Women in Business club that focuses on “Empowering, Elevating and Educating” future women leaders. In the organization they focus on creating a safe space for women in business to create connections with other women in the business field in the Las Vegas Valley. Business is a male dominated field so having those women connections can increase confidence. Melanie is also a member of the Formula Racing club at UNLV. Formula racing club creates an all electric car from scratch to compete at the SAE competition. Being in this club Melanie is able to provide representation to women in the automotive industry. It is important to Melanie that women feel included and encouraged to go into male dominated fields and take important roles in this work. Outside of school Melanie is an active member in the community. She volunteers with a variety of organizations on and off campus like the community garden at UNLV, DASH, Project 150 and many more.

Headshot of Taylor Gauthier

Taylor Gauthier

Taylor Gauthier is a UNLV freshman double-majoring in mathematics and computer science. She attended Clark High School, where she graduated at the top of her class in 2022. She helped lead the girls basketball team to a 4A State Championship, first in the school's history, and competed in cross country and track. She is now a student-athlete for UNLV and running on the Cross Country and Track team. As a female athlete, Taylor empowers not just her teammates, but other women on campus. Taylor is currently working at an engineering consulting firm and in the fast food industry. Taylor works as a UNLV Engineering Ambassador, where she gives tours and presentations to incoming students. She encourages women to join engineering and to push themselves in every aspect of their lives. Taylor is also a part of the NSF EPSCoR RII-BEC group, where they encourage undergraduates to work in research and apply to graduate school. Taylor hopes this program helps her publish research and apply for fellowships. Taylor’s goal is to complete a Ph.D. in mathematics and research how math is taught in primary schools and how to encourage students to follow STEM career paths, especially for minority groups.

Franklin Las Rosa Diaz holding award

Franklin Las Rosa Diaz

Franklin is studying Computer Science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He moved to the USA from Peru in 2016 to pursue education and a better life. However, the high cost of education led him to join the U.S. Army a year later, where he served as a Motor Transport Operator for four years. Franklin had the opportunity to participate in various missions in the Middle East, providing support to other branches. During his time in the military, he developed a deep respect for servicewomen, as he’s seen them work just as hard, if not harder, than their male counterparts. Currently, Franklin works as a Certification Team Leader at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. His team ensures that veterans, families, and dependents receive their VA Education Benefits. He also mentors students to help them achieve their academic goals. As an active member of the Rebel Vets organization on the University of Nevada Las Vegas campus, part of his participation involves addressing and raising awareness for certain issues that many female veterans face that are often overlooked. Some of these issues can include higher unemployment and lower earnings, a lack of a community of female veterans, and sexual harassment. Franklin has worked alongside many female veterans and provided career guidance, counseling, and even hosted events where female veterans are the primary focus. In addition, he mentored middle school students in a National Science Foundation-funded summer camp focusing on Entertainment Engineering.Franklin is passionate about the technology field, especially outer space, and NASA. He believes that his problem-solving skills gained as a leader and a student could make a significant contribution to this industry.

Headshot of Jenna Wang

Jenna Wang

Jenna is a senior who is majoring in Biological Sciences. After graduation, she hopes to attend medical school and become a physician. Her interest in medicine stems from watching medical T.V. shows in high school, such as Grey’s Anatomy and House M.D. Jenna currently serves as the Vice President of the UNLV American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA), an organization that advocates for equality for females in medicine. As Vice President, Jenna collects menstrual products that will be packaged into feminine hygiene kits and everyday essential products that will be donated to a local homeless shelter. Her biggest initiative during her term was to establish a mentorship program within the branch. At the beginning of college, she felt extremely lost and had no one to turn to as she is the first in her family to attend college. To prevent others, regardless if they are first generation or not, from having the same experience, she established a mentorship where an underclassman, who is just as lost as she once was, can turn to an upperclassman, who had been in the same shoes as them, for advice and guidance.

Jessica Agaloos photo

Jessica Agaloos

Jessica Agaloos is a Filipina-American senior majoring in kinesiology to become a physical therapist. She is the current Chapter President of Silver Wings (SW), partnering with UNLV's AFROTC Det 004 and sister organization Arnold Air Society (AAS). In April of 2022, Jessica represented UNLV in Washington D.C at AAS and SW’s joint military national conclave (NATCON). At this event, she was awarded the Monica Browning Outstanding Chapter President Award. Collaborating with Det 004 and AAS, she is also helping lead Fall 2022’s Regional Conclave (RCON), with UNLV hosting colleges ranging from the University of San Diego to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical. Jessica helped provide opportunities with other organizations to help the community through volunteer events such as Three Square Farmer’s Market and networking with Air Force civilians, military personnel, and veterans. She empowers others around her by organizing workshops that include resume writing and leadership opportunities for members to learn and grow their leadership skills. Jessica also provides opportunities to participate in internships for the Air Force Association, Pentagon, Air Force Civilian Service, and IronNet. She shows that both women and people of color can also lead, influence, and have success in a military organization.

Daeun Cho photo

Daeun Cho

Daeun Cho is a first-generation college student studying Biological Sciences here at UNLV. She is currently serving as Alpha Epsilon Delta (AED) Nevada Beta's Historian and previously served as UNLV American Medical Women's Association's (AMWA) Secretary and Vice President. During her time in AMWA, she advocated for menstrual equity and educated the general membership about period poverty. She planned and budgeted a semester-long service project where AMWA members could assemble period care packages and donate them to women's shelters. Her fight against period poverty branched outside of AMWA when she created the Community Period Basket. Located at WRIN's office in WRI A225, the basket contains free period products where people are encouraged to take as many products as they need and donate as many products as they want. Inspired by her passion for menstrual equity, CSUN Senators reached out to Daeun to create a bill that expands these baskets all across campus. She hopes the bill can be pushed out in the fall to ensure the UNLV community has access to period products on campus wherever they are.

Emily Cummins' headshot

Emily Cummins

As a non-traditional first generation student Emily will be completing a BSEG in Civil and Environmental Engineering set to graduate in fall 2022. Before pursuing her education with experience from Managing franchise hotels in Northern Michigan, she worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer for the Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii in Nanakuli by using the knowledge of for profit management to aid the nonprofit sector writing and completing grant and capital improvement projects for the clubhouse sparking an interest in the infrastructural needs within marginalized and minority communities. As a student Emily is involved as a member of several organizations including SWE, ASCE, ANTS, and served briefly as a CSUN Senator for the College of Engineering and vice chair of the Ways and Means committee working to support funding requests for student organizations across campus. She received honorable mention for Las Vegas ASCE YMF scholarship for addressing covid concerns within marginalized and disproportionately minority communities, AANAPISI STEM Spring Research Award, Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship through the Office of Undergraduate Research to present two research grants at the Undergraduate research symposium in the fall, College of Engineering Scholarships for maintaining a competitive GPA, the Professional Women in Building "Building Hope Scholarship" for 2022, and works full time as a transportation engineering intern at GCW Inc. which has enabled her passion for Civil Engineering and the opportunities she has within the field.

Emily Huerta's headshot

Emily Huerta

Emily Huerta is dual majoring in mathematics and physics at UNLV. She will be continuing onto graduate school to receive her PhD is astrophysics. With her degree, she will become a professor at a university and lead her own research group, studying space and the universe. Ever since 2017, she has been a member of the UNLV Scientista Foundation, an organization that empowers and supports women in STEM. From that point, she's been an events director, secretary, and president for the organization, exercising her passion for leadership and women in science. For four consecutive years, she has volunteered, planned, and implemented Scientista’s annual Girls in STEM Day event. In this event, 100 middle school girls visit UNLV’s campus and run through a series of STEM-based workshops, all with the common goal of inspiring and encouraging young girls to pursue STEM fields. Currently she is conducting research under the UNLV Department of Physics and Astronomy, specifically within the high-energy astrophysics branch on Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) and magnetars.

Samatha Vacek's headshot

Savanna Vacek

Savanna Vacek is a senior who majors in Civil Engineering. She is an undergraduate research assistant in an environmental engineering lab where she works to remove disinfection by-products from drinking water. She hopes to diminish the inequality of access to clean water through her work with low-cost, sustainable adsorbents. Savanna recognizes that engineering is a male dominated field and women need more opportunity and support to speak out so that women can thrive and be empowered in engineering. Throughout her degree, she has participated in research studies that focus on women’s academic career progress in civil engineering and has created tight-knit groups to support women in her classes. Savanna has also joined women’s support groups within her internships where she led sessions which discussed topics such as leadership style, work-life balance, and speaking with confidence. Outside of empowering women in engineering, Savanna chose to join a sorority to meet other like-minded women with similar values. Within her sorority, women discussed personal growth topics such as resume building, internship searching, networking, and gaining confidence. She hopes to encourage young women in engineering to be involved in their community and to never be afraid to ask questions.

Darian Fluke Headshot

Darian Fluker

Darian Fluker is a senior who double majors in theatre and hospitality management. In July of 2020, she was elected the President for The Womxn of Color Coalition (W.O.C.C.). Darian collaborated with the executive members to create an annual newsletter for the organization. She also led in the creation of Sista x Sista, a sisterhood program as a branch of W.O.C.C., where members from each of the councils connect with members from other councils who they do not identify with in order to create stronger allyship. She is a writer, who self-published her first chapbook of poetry in February of 2021 where she discusses her experiences in her intersectionality of being a black woman. She wishes to create poetry and theatre pieces to create honest and inclusive pieces that better represent folx of color, taking charge of her own narrative, and urging others to do the same.

Saha Salahi Headshot

Saha Salahi

Saha Salahi is a first generation Afghan-American muslim womxn who’s sense of responsibility for creating community has bolstered her into a leader. Saha is engaged in a variety of organizations and programs to help other young women students learn political leadership skills, policy analysis, and training on how to run for office. Saha is currently the Secretary at CSUN As a founder of the first UNLV chapter for IGNITE National, Saha serves as the District 4 Coordinator for the Nevada Center for Civic Engagement, where she provides support for the civic education courses in K-12 schools in the region through the“We the People” program. In this role, Saha assists to cultivate the coaching for professional development bootcamps, in-classroom practice hearings, and district and state competitions. She is also the primary program administrator for Congressional District 3 where she facilitates communication with the state coordinators; high school administrators, and Congressional staff. Additionally, Saha is a Student Researcher at Brookings Mountain West and the Lincy Institute. She hopes to be an advocate for minority groups and use her voice to bring forward equitable reform at a local and national level.

Samantha White Headshot

Samantha J. White

Samantha J. White is a research assistant for the head researcher of UNLV’s Social Interaction Lab. In this position, Samantha has assisted in a qualitative study that examines how the increase of women in agricultural communities impacts gender-role attitudes and perceptions. She recognizes the value of work that aims to disrupt negatively impactful gender stereotypes to push women forward in male-dominated fields. Samantha is now entering her senior year at UNLV. She is actively working with faculty to gain approval to conduct a gender-focused study that will look at changes in stereotypes and their potential to help or hinder gender minorities’, and women’s, interests and advancement in STEM. She hopes to publish the results of her findings next year in 2022. Samantha also works as a CARE advocate at the UNLV Care Center, assisting students by providing supportive services through a healing-centered, trauma-informed, anti-oppression framework.

2024 Scholarship Awardees

Half Body Shot of Lauren

Lauren Cross is a senior at UNLV studying Psychology and minoring in Family Studies. She graduated from College of Southern Nevada in Spring 2022 where she obtained an Associate’s of Art degree in Psychology. During Lauren’s time at UNLV she has been the Lead Peer Mentor of the Women’s Empowerment Program that supports women identifying students to gain confidence, learn skills for life, and gives opportunities for networking. Each semester, Lauren plans and runs 4 events and mentors a 30 person cohort. The Women’s Empowerment Program has been running since Fall of 2022 and has had great success at UNLV. After graduation, Lauren hopes to work in the hospitality field where she can continue to do event planning. Her big career goal is to work in the cruise industry. Lauren has been able to overcome great challenges with mental health and will always be an advocate for mental health. She became a Mental Health First Aid in 2023 to further her dedication to supporting others in mental health crises. Lauren’s empathy skills has helped many people around her and she is looking forward for the future.

Portrait of Taylor Gauthier

Taylor Gauthier is a UNLV sophomore double-majoring in mathematics and computer science. She is a student-athlete for UNLV and running on the Cross Country and Track team. As a female athlete, Taylor empowers young girls who want to run collegiately. Taylor is currently working at an engineering consulting firm, HDR Consulting LLC. Taylor works as a lead UNLV Engineering Ambassador, where she gives tours, presentations, and panels to incoming students. She encourages women to join engineering and to push themselves in every aspect of their lives. She helps lead the team through training, recruiting, and developing the program. This semester she helped remake the whole presentation and tour to include the new Advanced Engineering Building. Taylor is also a part of the NSF EPSCoR RII-BEC group, where they encourage undergraduates to work in research and apply to graduate school. Taylor hopes this program helps her publish research and apply for fellowships. Taylor’s goal is to complete a Ph.D. in mathematics and research how math is taught in primary schools and how to encourage students to follow STEM career paths, especially for women and minority groups.

Portrait of Maryam

Maryam Raja is a fourth-year student majoring in Political Science and pursuing minors in the Brookings Public Policy and Great Works. Maryam is currently a Student Researcher with the Brookings Mountain West and the Lincy Institute. She has an interest in researching public policy and becoming an attorney. Throughout her undergraduate years, Maryam has served the community in many different ways. Such as serving as the President of Muslim Students’ Association, President of South Asian Student Association, Vice President of UNLV ACLU chapter ‘People Power’, Publisher and Staff Editor for the UNLV Undergraduate Law Review, Educational Outreach Coordinator and Co-Founder of UNLV Project Wellness, CSUN Senator of the College of Liberal Arts and Chair of the Scholarships and Grants Committee. Maryam has served as a finalist in the President’s Innovation Challenge, a Public Policy International Affairs Fellow, and Troesh Scholar. Maryam has a commitment to student well-being as seen through her initiatives to enhance student and campus welfare. She has worked with UNLV President Whitfield in addressing concerns in student safety, mental health, and representation. Additionally, has advocated for free hygiene products in school restrooms and free bus passes. Maryam has worked with community partners to put together a school-wide health and wellness town hall to highlight the growing concerns of students and their mental wellbeing. All in all, her goals are to foster a campus environment that improves the wellness of students and all concerned.

Portrait of Jiselle

Jiselle Waters is an ambitious, hardworking student on the pre-law track, majoring in graphic design and media. Every step she takes in her academic career is a step towards her ultimate goal: empowering young women of color in the Las Vegas valley and beyond. Jiselle started making this dream a reality when she began working at the Public Education Foundation as an Engelstad Scholar. Her work included the creation of an exclusive newsletter titled “Along the Pathway,” which spotlights multiple female teachers of color who work to make the Clark County School District a safe, prosperous learning environment for Nevada’s children. She currently works as a social media marketing intern at Dress For Success Southern Nevada, a nonprofit organization that works tirelessly to help Nevadan women of all backgrounds enter the workforce and start their careers.

Selfie of Ranazha

Ranazha Webb is a first generation college student attending the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). She is majoring in Criminal Justice at the Greenspun College of Urban Affairs. Ranazha is in the freshman class. During her freshman year in high school she joined the UNLV Upward Bound Program and learned what it is like to be a college student. Since then she has developed many skills like critical thinking and networking with professionals. During the summer of 2022, Ranazha had the opportunity to spend more than five hours with a group of FBI specialists. The FBI shared some of their experiences and even shared training videos and how they work as an organization to protect innocent people. Ranazha was so excited by the knowledge she gained just by networking with the team. She knew instantly that she could make an impact on society by protecting the U.S. and meeting her career aspirations. Ranazha walked out of the room knowing her future is with Criminal Justice and a career with the FBI. Currently, Ranazha is volunteering with The Cupcake Girls, empowering women to make connections they need to succeed in their goals of becoming well balanced individuals.