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Rosa Parks Scholars to be feted

Kyla Smith
The Detroit News

Hadiya Knight can be spotted right away when she plays her violin in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's Civic Youth Ensembles.

At age 18, she is the first African-American female to be chosen to play in the orchestra's highest youth ensemble.

"It's striking to see a young black girl in an ensemble that's made up of Caucasian and Asian children," Hadiya's mother, Patricia Knight, said. "It affirms who she is and the importance of this scholarship."

2015 Rosa Parks Scholars

Hadiya is one of the 42 students graduating from high schools across Michigan who have been named as recipients of a one-time, $2,000 scholarship from the Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation. Those students will be feted at a luncheon in their honor Friday at the St. John's Banquet and Conference Center in Southfield.

A special treat: Hadiya will perform a prelude performance before the luncheon.

The Renaissance High School graduate led her high school's orchestra to the highest rating at district and state level competitions, and she was selected to represent Detroit Public Schools in the Michigan Band and Orchestra All State Honors Orchestra at Western Michigan University. Hadiya will attend Michigan State University with a full scholarship in violin performance.

"I'm so honored to be selected," Hadiya said. "For me, this scholarship represents the diversity and the integration of the classical arts, which are all of the things Rosa Parks strived for and worked for."

This year's luncheon will have a historical twist, said Kim Trent, president of the foundation, who also was a 1987 scholarship recipient.

One highlight of the luncheon, she said, will be keynote speaker, Gwendolyn Boyd, the president of Alabama State University, who was one of five black students to integrate Jefferson Davis High School in Montgomery, Alabama.

The foundation was created in 1980 by The Detroit News, Detroit Public Schools and the Butzel Long law firm. More than 1,000 graduates have been awarded more than $2 million since its inception.

The scholarship is open to Michigan graduating seniors and is awarded based on academic achievement, economic need and community involvement. This year, more than 500 applications were received, which is the highest in the foundation's history.

Another scholarship winner, Trent McKenzie, said he spent time as a volunteer with Relay For Life and helped raise money for school organizations, while still going to class and participating in extracurricular activities.

The Milford High School grad will be one the first members of his family to go to college.

"I applied for this scholarship because I knew that my parents couldn't afford to help me, and I really wanted to go to college," said Trent, who will attend Michigan State University.

Trent, the foundation president, lauded the award winners. "We have a talented list of scholars," she said. "These are our future leaders and newsmakers."

Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation Board of Trustees

Kim Trent , president; former Rosa Parks scholar; education policy manager, Michigan Future Schools

James Rosenfeld , vice president; shareholder at Butzel Long

Jonathan Hart , secretary

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

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

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

Dorothy Cocroft , retired labor relations, General Motors Corp.

Louise Guyton , retired vice president-public affairs, Comerica Bank

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 , senior vice president, government and community affairs, Public Lighting Authority of Detroit

Danielle McGuire , associate professor of history, Wayne State University

Walter Middlebrook , assistant managing editor, The Detroit News

Carey Osmundson , communications manager, UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust

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

How to contribute and volunteer

The Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization. To make a tax-deductible contribution, contact Rosa Parks Scholarships, P.O. Box 950, Detroit, Michigan 48231. You may also contribute via Pay Pal at www.rosaparksscholarshipfoundation.org.

Calling All Alumni

Are you among the more than 1,000 Michigan residents who have received a Rosa Parks scholarship? If so, the Foundation wants to know where you are and what you are doing. Send a note to: Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation, P.O. Box 950, Detroit, Michigan 48231. You also can reach us by email: info@rosaparksscholarship.org.

Please note "Scholar Update" on the subject line.