MCTS Announces Winners of 2024 Rosa Parks Tribute Scholarship Essay Contest

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Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) announces the winners of its fourth annual Rosa Parks Tribute Scholarship essay contest.  

High school seniors in Milwaukee County who will attend a trade school, college, or university were invited to submit a short essay inspired by Parks’ famous quote, “Each person must live their life as a model for others.”  

More than 130 essays were submitted — representing 26 high schools — and reviewed by a diverse panel of staff from MCTS, the Milwaukee County Department of Transportation, Milwaukee County Diversity & Inclusion, and the Milwaukee County Office of Equity. 

"Rosa Parks' enduring legacy serves as inspiration, and I find pride in our county’s young trailblazers as they embark on their unique journeys to elevate the community,” said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley. “Through the Rosa Parks Tribute Scholarship, MCTS is positively amplifying the important voices of our youth. I look forward to witnessing the continued contribution of Rosa Parks' legacy through the impactful words of our younger generation." 

The following three students were chosen to each receive a $1,000 scholarship towards their higher education: 

1) Portia Pavelchik (Greendale High School)  

Portia is looking forward to attending a four-year college or university in the fall of 2024 and aspires to have a career in the medical field. Portia has a strong desire to help make the world a healthier place and would like to develop resources to advocate for others, especially children and the elderly. In her essay, Portia says regardless of how difficult a situation may be, it is by far more fulfilling to be self-aware that one’s actions can have direct positive consequences. 

Click here to read Portia’s essay.  

2) Aaron Lee (Brown Deer High School)  

Aaron plans to earn a degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and hopes to participate in student government. After graduating, he wants to go to a commercial pilot school and become a pilot for an airline. Aaron aspires to make a difference in the lives of others by following in the footsteps of social justice icons he is inspired by such as Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Muhammad Ali. As a member of the Milwaukee County Youth Commission, Aaron strives to achieve racial equity and advocate for others to truly make a difference.   

Click here to read Aaron’s essay. 

3) Zorin Gray (Rufus King IB High School) 

Zorin is looking forward to pursuing her passion for a Doctorate Degree in Applied Economics. Zorin shared that she aspires to be a model of leadership, perseverance, and empathy for others and hopes to inspire her nieces and nephews to never limit themselves or settle for the bare minimum. In times of personal adversity, Zorin shared that she perseveres with resilience by showing others that challenges are opportunities for growth and learning.  

Click hereto read Zorin’s essay. 

"The Rosa Park's Tribute Scholarship is a fantastic way for students across Milwaukee County to honor and remember social justice icons such as Ms. Parks," said Kevina Vann, MCTS Manager of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. "As an organization we strive to invest in our young leaders and care about improving racial equity within Milwaukee County.”  

One of the judges, Jacqueline Zeledon, Strategic Communications Manager for the Milwaukee County Office of Equity, states “Ms. Parks has inspired us all in one way or another. It has been a pleasure to get the opportunity to read so many inspiring essays from youth across Milwaukee County, and each participant deserves a round of applause for their wise and courageous words.”  

Parks was arrested on December 1, 1955, after refusing to give up her seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama. Her small act of civil disobedience led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling that outlawed segregation on public transportation. 

Every year, on December 1 — recognized nationally as Rosa Parks Day — MCTS honors Parks by reserving a seat on board all buses in its fleet. Each reserved seat includes a red rose and a placard that features Parks’ photo and a message about her courageous act. 

During Black History Month and Transit Equity Day, MCTS remembers Rosa Parks, Claudette Colvin, and civil rights pioneers who fought for equitable transit. Read more about Rosa Parks and other great civil rights pioneers including Claudette Colvin here.