June 17, 2014 at 1:00 am

Rosa Parks scholarship honors bring 3 times the pride

The Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation is seeing triple this year, with a set of triplet sisters among 42 recipients of its one-year, $2,000 scholarship.

“The girls are amazing, they made us so proud,” said Khalil Eter, father of award recipients Leila, Maya and Sara Eter, who graduated May 29 from Crestwood High School in Dearborn Heights. “They worked so hard from the bottom of their hearts.”

Eter said he also credits the girls’ mother, Ghada Eter, who did “whatever it took” to get the girls to their many extracurricular activities, while also balancing the commitments of the couple’s younger set of triplets, 12-year-olds Mohmad, Ali and Omar.

The girls plan to use their awards to help pursue careers in various medical fields. Leila and Sara will attend the University of Michigan: Leila plans to study dermatology, Sara, nurse anesthesia. Maya plans to attend Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore to study pediatric surgery.

They are the first triplets to be honored since the foundation was created in 1980 by The Detroit News, Detroit Public Schools and the Butzel Long law firm. More than $2 million has been awarded to more than 1,000 graduates since its establishment. The scholarship is open to Michigan graduating seniors and is awarded based on academic achievement, community involvement and economic need.

Also new this year is recognition of the foundation’s first alumnus of the year, Donnell White, executive director of the Detroit Branch NAACP. White was a Rosa Parks scholar in 1994.

“He really reflects the principles that make Rosa Parks so important to us,” said Kim Trent, president of the foundation, who won the scholarship herself in 1987. “We try to give (the scholarship) to people we think have the potential to be real fighters for social justice.”

Trent said the alumnus of the year award was created to connect alumni with current scholarship recipients.

“We thought this would be a really good way to show our scholars how people who have received the scholarship in the past have leveraged it and gone on to successful careers,” she said. “It’s important ... for the scholars to see themselves in our alumni.”

The Eter sisters, White and other award recipients will be honored at a luncheon Wednesday at the Charles H. Wright Museum in Detroit. The keynote speaker is Tonya Matthews, who took over as president and CEO of the Michigan Science Center in October.

Khalil Eter said he will be watching proudly as his daughters receive their awards.

“I don’t have enough arms to hug all three of them at the same time,” he said.

The fund's board of directors

Kim Trent, president; former Rosa Parks scholar; student recruitment manager, Michigan Future Schools

James Rosenfeld, vice president; shareholder at Butzel Long

Jonathan Hart, secretary; product marketing manager, Detroit Media Partnership

Michael Johnson, treasurer; senior executive, Professional Auditing Services of America

Alicia Nails, assistant secretary; director, Journalism Institute for Media Diversity, Wayne State University

Louise Guyton, assistant treasurer; retired vice president public affairs, Comerica Bank

Dorothy Cocroft, retired labor relations, General Motors Corp.

Patrick Delaney, operating partner, OGENOCO LLC

Delora Hall Tyler, foundation past-president; president, First Media Group Inc.

Austerine Hambrick, retired director, Office of Guidance and Counseling, Detroit Public Schools

Marcia Hart, retired administrator, Detroit Media Partnership

Dana Harvey, director of public inclusion, Public Lighting Authority of Detroit

Luther Keith, executive director, ARISE Detroit!, former senior editor, The Detroit News

Danielle McGuire, associate professor of history, Wayne State University

Walter Middlebrook, assistant managing editor, The Detroit News

Carey Osmundson, communication manager, UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust

Barbara K. Smith, PhD, director, Office of Guidance and Counseling, Detroit Public Schools

Calling all alumni

Are you among the more than 900 Michigan residents who have been named a Rosa Parks scholar since 1980? If so, the foundation wants to know where you are and what you are doing. Send a note to: Rosa Parks Scholarships, P.O. Box 950, Detroit, MI 48231. You also can reach us by email: rpscholarship@dnps.com

How to apply for the scholarship

High school students are encouraged to apply for a one-time $2,000 scholarship named in honor of civil rights heroine Rosa Parks. Applications must be postmarked by March 1, 2015. Information can be found at www.rosaparkscholarshipfoundation.org and will be available through school counselors.

White (Max Ortiz / The Detroit News)