Nationwide Children's Hospital

10/05/2021 | Press release | Archived content

Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Big Lots Announce 2021 Recipient of Big Lots Behavioral Health Scholarship

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ayan Haji, a graduate student at The Ohio State University, is the 2021 recipient of the Big Lots Behavioral Health Scholarship, the hospital and the Columbus, Ohio-based retailer announced today.

Originally launched in 2019, the Big Lots Behavioral Health Scholarship is awarded to a student who plans to pursue, or is currently pursuing, a graduate degree in the fields of behavioral or mental health, social work, or psychology. Recipients of the award receive $10,000 towards their education.

Haji is currently earning her master's degree in counselor education and maintains a 3.48 grade point average. She points to addressing discrepancies of care in the Somali community, and the way that mental health is viewed in the culture, as her incentive for building a career in this field.

Additionally, Haji completed an independent honors research thesis to study the effects of hope therapy on juvenile delinquency. The study revealed that utilizing this unique form of therapy allows children and youth to more effectively explore their strengths and develop long-term goals.

"After reviewing applications from many worthy students, Ms. Haji's passion and dedication to service for underrepresented communities clearly stood out," said Bruce Thorn, president and chief executive officer, Big Lots and member of the Nationwide Children's Hospital board of directors. "We were deeply impressed by her initiative and drive to support communities that are in need of mental health services, a goal that aligns strongly with the mission of the Big Lots Foundation."

Big Lots and the Big Lots Foundation have been devoted supporters of the hospital's mission to be the leader in pediatric mental and behavioral health wellness, care and research. In 2016, Big Lots and the foundation committed $50 million to support the building of the Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion, which opened in March of 2020, and Big Lots Behavioral Health Services at Nationwide Children's Hospital. Additionally, Big Lots has been a pivotal partner in the launch and growth of On Our Sleeves®, the movement for children's mental health.

"The Big Lots Behavioral Health Scholarship is yet another way that Big Lots demonstrates its commitment to creating a brighter tomorrow for children and families everywhere," said Steve Testa, president, Nationwide Children's Hospital Foundation. "The country faces a lack of pediatric mental health professionals and a scholarship like this helps attract the best and the brightest to the field. Scholarship winners like Ayan will go on to fruitful careers that change lives."


About On Our Sleeves®
Children don't wear their thoughts on their sleeves. With 1 in 5 children living with a significant mental illness and half of all lifetime mental health issues starting by age 14, we need to give them a voice. On Our Sleeves, powered by behavioral health experts at Nationwide Children's Hospital, aims to provide every community in America with free resources necessary for breaking child mental health stigmas and educating families and advocates, because no child or family should struggle alone.

Since the inception of On Our Sleeves in 2018, more than 2 million people have interacted with our free pediatric mental health educational resources at and our educator curriculums have reached more than 1.1 million students across the United States.

About Big Lots
Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Big Lots, Inc. (NYSE: BIG) is a national discount retailer, operating 1,414 stores in 47 states, as well as a best-in-class ecommerce platform with expanded capabilities via BOPIS, curbside pickup, Instacart and Big Lots NOW with same day delivery. The company's product assortment is focused on home essentials: Furniture, Seasonal, Soft Home, Food, Consumables and Hard Home. A Fortune 500 company and ranked #1 on Total Retail's 2020 Top 100 Omnichannel Retailers list, Big Lots' mission is to help people Live BIG and Save Lots. The company strives to be the BIG difference for a better life by delivering unmatched value to customers through the ultimate treasure hunt shopping experience, being a "best place to work" culture for associates, rewarding shareholders with consistent growth and top-tier returns, and doing good in local communities. For more information about the company, visit