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2023 MHAP Advocates

Jennifer De La Cruz is a Brooklyn College graduate who majored in Children and Youth Studies with a minor in Psychology. She was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in the Bronx. Jenny started as an intern with Youth Advocacy Corps and is now running our Mental Health Awareness Project.  She is looking forward to exploring the mental health field further for her graduate studies, and she participates in events to raise awareness about social issues affecting children and youth. She enjoys journaling and reading books during her free time.


Denice  is an undergraduate Brooklyn College student majoring in Psychology while minoring in Anthropology. Denice has felt there is an important need for advocacy and mental health awareness while growing up as a Mexican American in NYC. She decided to become a part of this change first as a Mental Health Advocate with MHAP and now as a Program Coordinator with the Youth Advocacy Corps. While doing this work she hopes to spread awareness, resources, and open people up to having difficult conversations. 

Angie is an undergraduate Psychology student at Brooklyn College. After receiving their undergrad, they plan to continue on to obtain their PhD in Clinical Psychology so that they can work to provide services to those who need them.


They are an avid advocate for mental health, mental health services, and breaking down stigma, especially after growing up in a community where mental health is often swept under the rug.


Aside from this, they enjoy crocheting, knitting, reading, and heavy metal music.

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Yi Wendy Ng Liang (She/her)  is an undergraduate student at City College majoring in Psychology with a concentration on Credentialed Alcoholism & Substance Abuse. 


Wendy joined the Youth Advocacy Summer Institute in 2023 and decided to continue her journey at the Youth Advocacy Corps as an intern. She seeks to explore and promote mental health across NYC to break the silence surrounding mental health.


Wendy believes reaching out for support is a courageous step towards healing and empowerment.

Beyoncé Medrano is an 18 year old freshman at Brooklyn college. Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, she always knew the purpose she wanted to serve. Finding and being part of the Young Advocates Corps Program helps her fulfill the mission she had started from a young age, being part of a bigger group that is willing to help the community with all the necessary resources, talking about issues and problems that most people are afraid of speaking about. 

Being part of YAC provides her with the tools that help bring other young people with resources that focus on mental health, self care, self love and more, being able to educate parents on how to overcome difficult topics that society makes us go through and being there for everyone. Listening to different perspectives, getting to know individuals and their story, all coming together as one can make a change. Youth is the future, giving back the help we receive and contributing to our communities can have a great impact on the world around us.


Raina is a queer Latinx student at City College, who is graduating soon with their bachelors in Psychology. They will be pursuing a masters in mental health counseling and hope to eventually receive a doctoral degree to make assessment testing more accessible to those who need it most, as accessible testing is how Raina was diagnosed with ADHD and received help.

Raina is a cat and ferret parent, both pets who love to wake her up too early in the morning.

Tas is a 20 year old New Yorker majoring in psychology at City College, set to graduate with her bachelor’s and master’s degree in 2024. She hopes to go into clinical work after obtaining her degree and looks forward to creating changes and leaving behind numerous impacts.


Tas is a great listener, empathetic and good at giving advice. She loves to bake sweets and take pictures in her free time. She’s quite shy and introverted at first but has a big heart.

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Salma Rodriguez is in her sophomore year at Lehman College aiming to get her bachelors in Speech Pathology and Audio. Salma was previously part of YASI during the summer of 2023 and enjoyed her time there. She was interested in food justice because she lived in a food desert community and wanted to learn how to access more nutritional options.


After her time in YASI she became more aware of the importance of mental health and spreading more resources for everyone. She hopes her time in MHAP will help her connect more with her

community and family.

Aiden Zafar works as a youth leader, serving young people in their home borough of Queens, New York. They were introduced to youth work as a high-schooler and, inspired by the work of educators and counselors, went on to work as a caretaker and after-school educator. Their roles in community with other New Yorkers often suspect to violence and marginalization has inspired them to cultivate spaces where young people can speak freely about issues that concern them, their safety, and their future.


Evans (he/him) is a high school senior and a Posse finalist. Evans wants to pursue a degree in business administration and someday go to law school. Evans decided to become an advocate for those who have been misrepresented and ignored, and he wanted to be the voice for many. He is looking forward to being able to help others get back on their feet and make a change.

Amelia is a graduate Brooklyn College student majoring in General Business for her Master’s degree.  She wants to work and obtain a position in the HR department as her career choice and has a passion for setting the standards high for achieving her goals and including others that she holds close to strive for their goals as well. She has decided to become a Mental Health advocate with MHAP because stigma is real and wants to speak up for those who face it everyday. She has a new interest in taking what she learns from being a Mental Health advocate and relating it to Business Psychology and overall a business/professional environment.


Aaron Benre (He/Him) was born and raised in Harlem, Manhattan, New York. He lives with his mom, sister, and grandma and is currently a high school senior at Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science (AMS) in the Bronx. Aaron has felt highly privileged to have been diagnosed with autism because he knows that not everyone has the means and believes that nobody should be shamed for their mental state. He has been waiting for this opportunity to join the Youth Advocacy Corps (YAC) Program, and he is excited to be part of MHAP.

Najia is a senior at Brooklyn College. Her major is Children and Youth studies. Working with kids has always been her passion. She strives to be successful and leave an impact on younger generations. She loves animals and loves to paint. She continues to work on herself mentally and spiritually.

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Lorenzo is a City College graduate who majored in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. He was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Growing up as a Mexican-American, Lorenzo has recognized a need for change and development in discussions on mental health and mental illness in his community. Therefore, he aims to pursue his master’s degree in mental health counseling to hopefully create a change in those around him. Lorenzo is currently working on this by helping with the current humanitarian crisis and volunteering at the crisis text line.


In his free time, he enjoys driving to new places, playing video games, collecting shoes, and learning new things like building a desktop computer.

Madison Zaldívar is 19 years old, and was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She is now a college student enrolled at The City College of New York. Her major is Psychology. She has a long term goal of becoming a counselling psychologist. In her free time she enjoys yoga, hanging out with family & friends, & listening to music. She also enjoys thrifting clothes & trying new foods.


Madison is apart of MHAP because she is passionate about Mental Health.Working towards creating a society that is aware of mental health & uses resources as a form of self-care is a value for hers. Being in MHAP allows her to do exactly that. She also believes being an advocate is attributed to the practice of being the change we want to see in the world.

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Iris Chon is attending City College of New York while pursuing a Bachelor's in Psychology. Iris joined Youth Advocacy Corps as a Mental Health Advocate because she wants to raise awareness about mental health for people who need it the most. She believes that acquiring knowledge about mental health will improve one’s physical,mental, and emotional well-being. No one should be left out of gaining more knowledge about mental health no matter what their socioeconomic status is. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s that much more important to educate younger generations on their mental health to provide them with the tools to succeed in life. Iris also aspires to be a Mental Health Counselor and give back to the Asian-American community in hopes of destigmatizing mental illnesses.

Nikola Thousand is an autistic, Dominican trans femme plural system born and raised in NYC and passionate about art and music. She has joined MHAP because they care to apply their passion for creativity in the exploration and advocacy of improving mental health, self-care, wellness and supporting those in intersections like themselves. Based in Harlem, they use their music to speak on their lived experiences as a New Yorker and use general themes in their music to allude to the struggles of other New Yorkers, trans women, AMABs, Dominicans, queer folx, and those who have been abused by family and/or the mental health system.


They wish to shed light on the hardships that people may or may not share in the experiences that they experienced and always encourage those they know to find their own art. Living by their mantra, “Everything Exists, You Oughta Find It,” and posing the idea that all of life is art, they work towards leading an example of what self-care and wellness look like for all of them, and hopefully for those around them.


Yuong Huao Ng Liang is a New York City College of Technology undergraduate who majored in Human Services, aims to master Child Psychology, and aspires to be a school counselor, school guidance counselor, or social worker.


Yuong Huao’s interest in mental health stems from his preadolescent to his adolescent years experiences. Yuong Huao experienced bullies at school in the United States and in his hometown. He identifies as Chinese-Venezuelan. Whether it is Chinese or Hispanic culture, mental health is viewed as underrated, nonexistent, and shameful. As a Youth Advocate, he hopes to break the mental health stigma, spread awareness and resources, and inspire people to speak up and seek resources, especially children, youth, and young adults; tell people how you feel, and your feelings should matter.

Sanaa Woodley is an undergraduate student at SUNY University at Albany, majoring in Political Science, double minoring in Africana Studies and Sociology. Activities she does in her free time include spending time with family and friends, playing video games, and relaxing. She is very passionate about advocating for human rights for all. Her passion started with the many eerie events in 2020. Sanaa became a MHAP advocate in 2023 and seeks to learn more about those within and outside of her community, helping all those around her that are struggling in silence. The battlefield starts in the mind. Sanaa strives to help fight that battle for all one day at a time.

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Alyssa G. is a 16 year old from Brooklyn, NY. She is an athletic, intelligent, wholesome, motivated teen who is involved in track & cheerleading within her school. Ever since middle school, Alyssa has always made it a goal to remain on the honor roll.


Alyssa is a very down to earth person and an open minded young woman. Alyssa shares a passion for helping others in need, and is always motivated to help the community.

Stacy Ann C. De Souza is a legally blind young woman from Trinidad and Tobago who is a graduate of Borough of Manhattan Community College, where she majored in Early Childhood Education, as well as a graduate of Brooklyn College, where she majored in Children Youth Studies. She enjoys music and participating in Daniel’s Music Foundation music classes. 


Stacy Ann now lives in Brooklyn, New York. She started volunteering with Youth Advocacy Corps as a guest speaker for a YASI disability awareness presentation with Professor Carla. Stacy Ann is excited about advocating for Mental Health and Disability Awareness alongside MHAP and is looking forward to motivating young people to let their voices be heard in society in positive ways.

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Nikala D’Aguiar is a second year student at Guttman Community college.

She was born and raised in Guyana, South America and moved to the USA three years ago. Nikala Advocates for survivors of sexual assault and aim to empower theses individuals to share their story and educate others. She was part of the Youth Advocacy Summer Institute where she learned more about mental health. Nikala joined MHAP because she hopes to spread awareness about the importance of  mental health and break the stigma surrounding it. In her free time, she enjoys reading, spending time with family and friends and going on adventures. 

Rachel Bai is a John Jay College of Criminal Justice graduate. She majored in Criminology, minored in Psychology, and earned a certificate in Dispute Resolution. Rachel works at New York Peace Institute on weekdays and Youth Advocacy Corps on the weekends. She is excited about advocating for mental health awareness with MHAP in schools all over NYC. Rachel was born and raised in Brooklyn. In her free time, she likes to bake, read, listen to music, and travel.

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