Congratulations to our 2018 Scholarship Recipients!

Every two years CEA/MNY offers two scholarships for its nationally recognized Teacher Certification Program to aspiring childbirth educators committed to social justice around childbirth and working to make change in marginalized communities in New York City.

The Doris Haire Leadership Scholarship (open to all qualified applicants) is named after Doris Haire, co-founder of CEA/MNY in 1972 and a fiercely passionate and effective consumer and maternal health advocate.

The Still I Rise Leadership Scholarship, named after Maya Angelou’s poem, which famously and eloquently describes overcoming racism, classism, and sexism, is open to all qualified African American/Black candidates and is aimed at reducing the high disparities in infant and maternal mortality that exist in African American communities, especially in New York City. We received so many inspiring applications and as a result, CEA/MNY’s board decided use the current groundswell of awareness and effort to eliminate generations old disparities in childbirth to fundraise additional scholarships. After a successful campaign, raising over $8k, we are excited to announce funding for 5 additional Still I Rise scholarship recipients.

Many thanks to all who supported our fundraising efforts—without you, this would have not been possible.

Please join us in congratulating and celebrating our 2018 scholarship recipients:

The Doris Haire Leadership Scholarship is awarded to Elizabeth Guerra.

Elizabeth Guerra is a Latina social justice activist and Queens native, with over a decade of experience building community power through the vehicles of community organizing, volunteer recruitment and engagement, and popular education at non-profits and labor unions throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. She has technical expertise in collective bargaining, multi-layered campaign development, women’s rights, power building, reproductive, economic and worker justice.

Elizabeth has dedicated her life to teaching girls and women to stand in their power. As a full spectrum birthworker, Elizabeth has worked in service of pregnant people in New York and Connecticut. She has been trained by Ancient Song Doula Services in Brooklyn, NY.

Elizabeth graduated with her Bachelors from SUNY Stony Brook University with departmental honors in History and a concentration in Latin American & Caribbean History and Women’s Studies. She obtained her Masters in Labor Studies from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.  Recently, Elizabeth has become a Registered Yoga Teacher and a Breathe for Change Wellness Champion.

A Still I Rise Scholarship is awarded to Stacey Toro.

Stacey Toro is a former school teacher and single mother residing in NYC’s historic El Barrio community. She is a birth and postpartum doula, certified lactation counselor, and an experienced Reiki healer and yoga practitioner. Raised in the Nuyorican Bronx, inspired by the empowering birth of her own son, and informed by decades of experience in political organizing, spoken word, community improvisational theater, and Afro-indigenous ritual and healing traditions, her intuitive, culturally-based perspective supports women and families in creating liberating birth experiences.  She holds certifications as a doula from DONA International, as a lactation counselor from Mama Mia, Inc, and as a Holistic Health Counselor from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She is also a certified 200 hour and prenatal Yoga Instructor. Stacey is apprenticed in Emotional Release Therapy (ERT) through Casa Atabex Ache, and holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Hunter College / CUNY. She currently teaches higher education Humanities and Race Studies and services families as a residing in the South Bronx and Northern Manhattan.

A Still I Rise Scholarship is awarded to Berenice Kernizan.

Berenice Kernizan is a full spectrum doula, and certified lactation counselor, serving clients through her private practice Adventures of a Wombman. She also works as a community doula with Ancient Song Doula Services, and By My Side Birth Support. Berenice is an advocate of  Birth Justice and Reproductive Justice. With her scholarship her mission is to provide education, and resources to underserved communities. She believes that in order to strengthen communities they must first have access to choices. Born in Haiti, Berenice was raised in Brooklyn, and graduated from Brooklyn College with a B.A. in psychology, and a Minor in Women’s Studies. She speaks fluent Haitian Creole. In the future she plans to pursue a career in Midwifery.

A Still I Rise Scholarship is awarded to HunterDae.

HunterDae is a birth doula, public health advocate, parent of twins, and native New Yorker. HunterDae’s experiences navigating conception, pregnancy, and birth as a self identified Black, Fat, Queer, Non-binary person, has lead them to passionately tackle health disparities, and challenge the discourse surrounding birth to be less racially biased, more body positive, and more gender expansive. They’ve been learning, working, organizing and educating in their communities since adolescence as both a youth instructor and peer educator at The Center for Anti-Violence Education in Brooklyn. HunterDae is a trained full spectrum doula through Ancient Song Doula Services, a volunteer community doula, and currently supporting families privately as well as through the New York Doula Collective. HunterDae’s practice is in tribute to their children, is informed with a reproductive justice lens and is charged by their ancestral family of healers/care providers and educators.

HunterDae believes strongly in supporting families to understand that they “know more than they think”, honoring each individual’s experience and encouraging families to value their truths while supporting their choice. HunterDae aspires to be a Midwife and hopes to support wellness of families through the life cycle. They also hope to make childbirth education more accessible and affirming for Queer and Trans Black and Indigenous People of Color (QTBIPOC), birthing individuals that are often shamed for body size/type, and for families expecting multiples. They are grateful for their award from CEAMNY and honored to be supported on their path to expanding and diversifying the access and information for their communities.

A Still I Rise Scholarship is awarded to Aliyah Ansari.

Aliyah Ansari resides in Brooklyn, New York. A mother of one, Aliyah cites her pregnancy journey as significantly influential in her desire to become a childbirth educator. During her pregnancy, she wanted to gain as much knowledge as she could and immersed herself in everything pregnancy related.  From watching documentaries to reading books and attending panels about birth, Aliyah did everything she could to arm herself with information. From this research came empowerment. She realized that she could make the choice of who would help her birth her child. With this empowerment she switched from a provider who didn’t listen to her needs to an amazing midwife who gave her the space to voice her concerns. With her help, she was able to have a successful home birth.

This opened her eyes to the importance of knowledge. Knowledge, she knew, not everyone had access to. She wants to create spaces that centers on childbirth education but also allow women of color the ability to talk freely about their pregnancy experiences as well as how being a woman of color affects their pregnancy. She is truly excited about this program and the impact she will be able to have within her community.

A Still I Rise Scholarship is awarded to Thamar Innocent.

Thamar Innocent is a trained birth and postpartum doula and her goal is to create a space filled with support, resources, advocacy, love and sometimes just a listening ear.  Her passion is rooted in a Caribbean culture that prides themselves on caring for the woman from preconception through her transition into motherhood. As a daughter of a Haitian immigrant, she has a heart for the Haitian diaspora community in NYC and works diligently to help those that need her services the most.

Thamar feels that her purpose is to support and empower moms to lead a holistic lifestyle that works for them.  She is laser focused on educating women throughout the childbearing year so that they could make informed decisions and have access to resources they might otherwise have not know of.

Thamar is also a certified health coach and received her B.S in Health Services Administration in NYC.  She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and 7-year-old son.

A Still I Rise Scholarship is awarded to Shawntel Cyril.

Shawntel Cyril is a humanitarian at heart and a creative soul. She received a scholarship to become a birth doula through Brooklyn Perinatal Healthy Women Healthy Futures program. She’s also a Certified Lactation Counselor. Her passion for women and children started at a very early age after experiencing domestic violence within her family. She found herself becoming a voice to those who felt voiceless.

Shawntel decided to become a birth worker after having a very traumatic birth experience with her son. She currently works for the Nurse-Family Partnership Program as a Community Outreach Coordinator. She has also worked as a health educator, home visitor and facilitator for the Parenting Journey Program. Shawntel is an active member in her community and an advocate for birth justice. She believes that women should never feel inaudible when giving birth, but instead empowered. Her motto is “plant a seed and watch it grow.”  She hopes to follow in Maya Angelou’s footsteps with her scholarship by encouraging and inspiring as many women as possible.

Shawntel graduated from Touro College with an A.A.S degree in Human Services and plans to return to school to obtain a degree in UX design. She hopes to combine technology and art with birth work to help people in the field become stronger.