Meet the 2021 Rosa Parks scholars

The Detroit News

After losing her mother during her freshman year of high school and being removed from her father by Child Protective Services, Sharon Kimbrough bounced between family members and faced an uncertain future. 

Kimbrough's mother was just 46 when she died from a stroke, leaving her daughter without a support system just as she was discovering who she was. 

"I lost myself. I suffered from real bad depression and anxiety and things of that nature," the 17-year-old Detroiter said. "Through it all, I never once gave up. I never told myself ‘I can't do this anymore.’ ... I had to grow up earlier than expected."

Kimbrough now lives with her older sister, whose support has shown her that her life has meaning and can be put to good use — a mission she'll bring to Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois, in the fall. She'll have help, in part, from a scholarship from the Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation. 

Founded in 1980 by The Detroit News and Detroit Public Schools, the Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation has awarded more than $2 million in scholarship money to students who embody the legacy of civil rights activist Rosa Parks.

Kimbrough plans to major in business administration and return to Detroit with a plan: "I want to make a place for girls who went through what I went through growing up," she said. "It’ll be a place to stay, to come and talk, and just feel like home so nobody feels abandoned or anything."

Choosing finalists is always a struggle, said foundation president Kim Trent.

"We always get top-notch candidates, but because our scholarship only goes toward tuition and books, we really focus on those who have greater economic need," she said. 

This year, due to the large number of applicants, the foundation has acknowledged several students with exemplary applications who were ineligible for a scholarship.

"We are also honoring the people that we're not giving scholarships to, but we want to say that they certainly honor the vision of Mrs. Parks when she set up this scholarship fund," said Trent.

Scholarship winner Ellisa Hill also faced losing her mother. In 2014, when Hill's mother died suddenly from a blood clot that spread to her lung, her daughter didn't yet know what she wanted to do with her life. 

In the fall, the 18-year-old Southfield resident will begin studying biology at Howard University with hopes of entering the medical field as a pediatrician or dermatologist. 

"I personally have struggled with acne, and trying to find an African American dermatologist was really hard," said Hill, who wants to specialize in skin types within ethnic communities. 

Starting in 2022, The News will be offering internships to select winners of the scholarship. Scholarship winners can apply for the internship, spending a total of two summers at The News. 

Past winners of the scholarship were celebrated with a dinner, but the celebration was canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year's winners will be honored with a virtual event that will be open to the public, said Trent. 

Each student was asked to write an essay about a major social issue they feel is important; three with exceptional essays will read theirs aloud at the virtual event. 

Waverly Duck, who received the scholarship in 1995, will speak to students at the event. Duck, a native Detroiter, is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Pittsburgh who earned his bachelor's, two master's degrees and a doctorate from Wayne State University.

Trent, a scholarship winner in 1987, hopes that each recipient carries a sense of obligation to fulfill the destiny of Rosa Parks.

"I hope that they use the education they're going to get, partially because of this scholarship, to really support their community," she said. 

The scholars

Here are the graduates cited by the Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation for academic excellence:

Katie Acker

Katie Acker

Lakewood High School

Hometown: Lake Odessa

College: Grace College

Career plans: Undecided

Parents: Jacey and Dan Acker 

Achievements: National Honor Society, vice president; student government, secretary; academic All-State cross country runner

Mayada Al-Ahmad

Mayada Al-Ahmad

H. H. Dow High School

Hometown: Midland

College: Central Michigan University

Career plans: Physician

Parents: Manal and Saleem Al-Ahmad

Achievements: Class president; student government, vice president; class mediator; National Honor Society, president; Multicultural Minds Club, founder; Leadership Award of Excellence

Zeinab Alghanem

Zeinab Alghanem 

Fordson High School

Hometown: Dearborn

College: Wayne State University

Career plans: Public health / prelaw 

Parent: Sahara Alwan

Achievements: Superintendent Student Advisory Council, Michigan Department of Education Anti-Racism Council, member; Fordson Club of Political Science, vice president; ACCESS ACTS, treasurer

Sydne Anderson

Sydne Anderson

Cranbrook Kingswood High School

Hometown: Detroit

College: Howard University

Career plans: OB/GYN

Parents: Nicole and James Huddleston

Achievements: African American Awareness Association, president; Zoom Storytime, co-founder; Bridge the Divide

Tori Bates

Tori Bates 

Detroit Edison Public School Academy — Early College of Excellence   

Hometown: Detroit

College: Central Michigan University   

Career plans: Physician assistant

Parent: Melissa Bates

Achievements: National Honor Society; varsity cheerleading team; Midnight Golf Program

Jania Clowers

Jania Clowers

Renaissance High School   

Hometown: Detroit 

College: Michigan State University  

Career plans: Media / Communications

Parents: Torlease Patrick and Henry Clowers 

Achievements: Wolverine Pathways Program; Detroit Urban League; Toyota Mentorship program

Nicole Eden

Nicole Eden

Lutheran High School Westland

Hometown: Westland 

College: Concordia University Nebraska

Career plans: Secondary education Spanish teacher

Parents: Erica and Joel Eden

Achievements: National Honor Society; varsity girls basketball, captain; homecoming queen; devotion leader 

Camryn Fisher

Camryn Fisher

Renaissance High School

Hometown: Detroit        

College: Michigan State University 

Career plans:  Social work 

Parents: Kniffy Fisher and Stanley Byers  

Achievements: National Honor Society; Phoenix Pride mentor; AP English Honors

Shardé Ford

Shardé Ford

Cass Technical High School

Hometown: Detroit

College: Oakland University

Career plans: Undecided

Parent: Carmelita Ford

Achievements: Midnight Golf; National Society of High School Scholars

Sakyra Fulton

Sakyra Fulton  

Cedar Springs High School  

Hometown: Sand Lake  

College: Ferris State University 

Career plans: Mechanical engineering 

Parents: Farren and Tom Nicholls  

Achievements: Early graduation and college admissions; worked through school

India Harlan

India Harlan

Cass Technical High School

Hometown: Detroit

College: Howard University

Career plans: Business management

Parent: Malikah Harlan

Achievements: Michigan Golf Program; National Honor Society; For Girls Only, president

Ashlyn Henderson

Ashlyn Henderson  

 Montague High School   

Hometown: Montague 

College: Spring Arbor University

Career plans: Physical therapy 

Parents: April and Jeff Henderson

Achievements: National Honor Society, chapter historian; cross country team, captain; FFA Organization, chapter president, state demonstration winner (2020), Henderson Distribution Co., owner 

Ellisa Hill

Ellisa Hill

Southfield Christian High School

Hometown: Detroit 

College: Howard University 

Career plans: Pediatrician / Dermatologist 

Parent: William Hill Jr.

Achievements: National Honor Society; senior class, vice president; Jack and Jill of America (Motor City chapter), Jaguar teen group, president; Co-ette Club, fourth vice president; AKA teens of Detroit, cluster coordinator 

NeAsia Hopkins

NeAsia Hopkins

Saginaw High School

Hometown: Saginaw

College: College for Creative Studies

Career plans: Animator / Public artist

Guardians: Independent

Achievements: National Honor Society; Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, national gold medalist; 

NAACP ACTSO, 3-time regional gold medalist

Chala House

Chala House

Skyline High School

Hometown: Ann Arbor

College: Spelman College

Career plans: Neonatologist

Parent: Johanna Evans

Achievements: National Honor Society; NAACP scholar; National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists, award of excellence; Rising Scholars

Zeinab Issa

Zeinab Issa

Dearborn High School

Hometown: Dearborn

College: Wayne State University

Career plans: Pre-medicine

Parents: Aida and Youssef Issa

Achievements: National Honor Society; Key Club

Samuel Kamano

Samuel Kamano

Comstock Park High School

Hometown: Comstock Park

College: Lansing Community College

Career plans: Aviation mechanics

Parents: Tiffany and Patrick Dunning

Achievements: Soccer, All-Conference; Midwest United Development Academy, U.S. Soccer; Bethany Christian Services’ Transitional Living Center to Independent Living Program, graduate

Sharon Kimbrough

Sharon Kimbrough 

Southeastern High School 

Hometown: Detroit

College: Trinity International University 

Career plans: Business administration / Biblical studies

Parent: Breanne Ansari 

Achievements:  Dean’s list; volleyball, all-city (2020-21); basketball; track and field; softball (2017-21); junior leadership program

Shawntay Lewis

Shawntay Lewis

Kalamazoo Central High School

Hometown: Kalamazoo

College: Wayne State University

Career plans: Broadcast journalism

Parents: Norma and Clarence Lewis

Achievements: National Honor Society; marching band, alto saxophonist, outstanding achievement; student artist

Brianna Logan

Brianna Logan

Cass Technical High School

Hometown: Detroit

College: Howard University or Spelman College

Career plans: Photography

Parents: Loria Logan and Willie Bryson

Achievements: Three Detroit photography exhibitions, “What it’s like for young Detroit photographers documenting Black Lives Matter protests,” contributor; Excellence in Journalism competition (Society of Professional Journalists, Detroit Chapter), finalist; National Geographic website, contributor

Tiara Mansfield

Tiara Mansfield 

Cass Technical High School 

Hometown: Detroit 

College: New York University 

Career plans: Attorney / Entertainment industry 

Parent: Michael Mansfield 

Achievements: Varsity debate team, co-captain; Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, actor (five years), National Honor Society; International Baccalaureate; Delta Sigma Theta Gems

Cenae MacLloyd

Cenae MacLloyd

Cass Technical High School

Hometown: Detroit

College: Michigan State University

Career plans: Business owner

Parents: Valita and Clifford MacLloyd

Achievements: National Honor Society; Wolverine Pathways; Horatio Alger Scholarship, International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement

Kirsten Miazga

Kirsten Miazga

Lakeshore High School

Hometown: Stevensville

College: Central Michigan University

Career plans: Undecided

Parents: Julie Vrablic and Jeffrey Miazga

Achievements: National Honor Society; yearbook, copy editor; marching band, state champions; Cabanas Ice Cream & More, shop manager

Lance Moy

Lance Moy

Troy High School

Hometown: Troy

College: Michigan State University 

Career plans: Computer engineering

Parents: Eilen and Arthur Moy

Achievements: National Honor Society; Michigan Water Polo Association, academic All-State; Oakland Sheriff Outstanding Youth Citizen Award; Troy School District Academic Excellence Award; Troy Youth Assistance honoree — Silver and Bronze Level

Hayat Nachar

Hayat Nachar

Crestwood High School

Hometown: Dearborn Heights

College: Wayne State University

Career plans: Optometrist

Parents: Sikne Bazzi and Salim Nachar

Achievements: National Honor Society, vice president; student council, vice president; class salutatorian; drama club, stage manager; AP Scholar

Sydney Newsome-Smith

Sydney Newsome-Smith

University High School Academy

Hometown: Southfield

College: Michigan State University

Career plans: Certified midwife nurse 

Parents: Juwana and Damon Smith

Achievements:  National Honor Society; Trio Upward Bound, ambassador; Detroit College Access Network, ambassador; Phi Tau Omega AKA Teen

Eyiara Oladipo

Eyiara Oladipo

Central High School

Hometown: Detroit

College: University of Detroit Mercy  

Career plans: Software developer

Parents: Omofolarin and Olusola Oladipo

Achievements: Student council, vice president; Kapor Center National Student Leadership Team; robotics team, captain

Evamelo Oleita

Evamelo Oleita

Cass Technical High School

Hometown: Detroit

College: Michigan State University

Career plans: Biomedical engineer

Parent: Stella and Jones Oleita 

Achievements: Michigan State Pre-College Alumni Association, president; National Agenda for Black Girls, steering committee; Black Lives Matter in All Capacities, co-founder

Crystal Onwenu

Crystal Onwenu

Cass Technical High school 

Hometown: Detroit

College: Eastern Michigan University 

Career plans: Pharmacist 

Parent: Cajetan Onwenu

Achievements: National Honor Society; orchestra ensemble, blue ribbon award; Community Health Pipeline, leadership award

Sulakshi Ramamoorthi

Sulakshi Ramamoorthi

Rochester High School

Hometown: Rochester Hills

College: American University   

Career plans: International relations / Economics / Law 

Parent: Vidyaarthy Ramamoorthi  

Achievements: Girl Up Co-Club, U.S. Midwest regional leader; senior class ambassador; Mental Health Spectrum, founder; Volunteer Service Award; Scholar of Highest Distinction 

Ama Russell

Ama Russell

Cass Technical High School

Hometown: Detroit

College: Spelman College

Career plans: Community organizer 

Parents: Cynthia Creagh and Tracy Russell

Achievements: Cum Laude; Black Lives Matter in All Capacities, co-founder; Spirit of Detroit Award for Outstanding Service; National Honor Society, secretary of education; Varsity Great Debater 

Jada Samuels

Jada Samuels 

Oakland Early College 

Hometown: Bloomfield Township 

College: Oakland University 

Career plans: Entrepreneurship 

Parents: Renee and Arnie Samuels 

Achievements: Student government, president; Bloomfield Youth Assistance Award, Detroit Speaks 20 Under 20 Award, Oakland Early College Presidential Award; Samwell Solutions LLC, co-founder and blogger

Madison Tate-Rankin

Madison Tate-Rankin

Wayne Memorial High School

Hometown: Detroit

College: Michigan State University

Career plans: OB/GYN 

Parent: Talecia Tate-Ware

Achievements: Class salutatorian; student council, sergeant at arms; National Honor Society; varsity swim and tennis (four-year) 

JaVon Taylor

JaVon Taylor

Communications and Media Arts High School

Hometown: Detroit

College: Wayne County Community College

Career plans: Supply chain management 

Parents: Camille Taylor and Dale Green; and Allan Lamar Rogers

Achievements:  Dean’s list, Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (2017-18); Honorary Hero Award, Bloomfield Hills Department of Safety (2016); outstanding volunteer, Food for the Soul program, Pilgrim Baptist Church; Merit Award, Junior Police Cadet Program (2019)

Rea’yana Taylor

Rea’yana Taylor

Renaissance High School

Hometown: Detroit

College: Western Michigan University

Career plans: Accounting

Parent: Mallory Sotherland

Accomplishments: National Honor Society; school senate; Cranbrook Horizons; Upward Bound, fundraiser committee chair 

Leah Thomason

Leah Thomason

Lincoln High School 

Hometown: Ypsilanti

College: Grand Valley State University

Career plans: Engineer

Parents: Kerrie and Joel Thomason

Achievements: National Honor Society; regional shot-put champion, Michigan High School Athletic Association; varsity volleyball, team captain, Southeastern Conference Scholar-Athlete Award

David Tinsley

David Tinsley

University Prep Science & Math High School 

Hometown: Detroit

College: Tennessee State University 

Career plans: Data analyst

Parent: Felicia Tinsley

Achievements: National Honor Society; student ambassador; chess team, captain; Midnight Golf Program

Kennedi Werdlow

Kennedi Werdlow 

Southfield Christian High School 

Hometown: Southfield

College: University of Michigan 

Career plans: Business

Parents:  Dr. Pamela Werdlow-Martin and Sean Werdlow 

Achievements: Summa Cum Laude; National Honor Society, treasurer; Varsity Cheer Team, captain; Miss Co-Ette (2020) 

Anthony Williams Jr.

Anthony Williams Jr.  

Grand Rapids Christian High School 

Hometown: Grand Rapids

College: Liberty University 

Career plans: Elementary teacher

Parents: Stacy Filipiak

Achievements: National Society of High School Honors; National Honor Society; Kappa League, Grand Rapids chapter, president; varsity football and wrestling, Conference Team Academics

Olivia Woodring

Olivia Woodring

Ravenna High School

Hometown: Ravenna 

College: University of Michigan

Career plans: Foreign service

Parents: Beth Shullenberger and Joe Woodring

Achievements: Valedictorian; FFA Organization, chapter president, state winner — Extemporaneous Public Speaking; Michigan FFA Organization, Destination Imagination — third place global finalist and IC global winner; Bee Culture magazine contributor


Honorable mention

The Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation would also like to recognize the following students. Because of their stellar academic performance, they have been awarded other major scholarships that have made them ineligible to receive the Rosa Parks scholarship. These students are excellent examples of what a Rosa Parks Scholar should be, and we want to acknowledge them.

Madison Bryant-Carter, Detroit, Renaissance High School

Tarrin Dewberry, Detroit, Renaissance High School

Jasmine Ewing, Detroit, Renaissance High School

Earl Hall, Flint, Beecher High School

Dominic Henderson, Detroit, Bloomfield Hills High School

Abdouaziz Jom, Detroit, Communication and Media Arts High school

Dorian Lofton, Hamtramck, Renaissance High School

Zarreya Payton-Benford, Lansing, Okemos High School — The Early College

Syeda Reza, Hamtramck, Cass Technical High School

Jason Stewart, Pontiac, Notre Dame Preparatory School

How to apply for the scholarship

Michigan high school seniors 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, 2022. Information can be found at rosaparksscholarship.org.


Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation — Board members

Kim Trent, foundation president, deputy director-prosperity for the State of Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation scholar

James Rosenfeld, foundation vice president; shareholder, Butzel Long

Marcia Hart, foundation secretary; retired, Detroit Media Partnership 

Dorothy Cocroft, foundation assistant secretary, retired, labor relations, General Motors Corp.

Terri Barnett Coleman, foundation treasurer; retired, North America Product Development, General Motors Corp.

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

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

Jonathan Hart, senior loan officer, Regent Financial

Denise Williams Mallett, Ed.D, Director, Office of Diversity & Inclusion University of Detroit Jesuit High School & Academy

Danielle McGuire, Ph.D: Civil Rights Historian and Award-winning Author. 

Isaiah McKinnon, Ph.D, retired Chief of Police and Associate Professor University Detroit Mercy, and Deputy Mayor City of Detroit

Walter Middlebrook, foster professor of practice, Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, The Pennsylvania State University; former assistant managing editor, The Detroit News.

Gary Miles, editor and publisher, The Detroit News

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

Carey Osmundson, communication senior manager, UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust

Sherida D. DuBose Parsons, Medical Director — Molina Healthcare of Michigan

Robin Schwartz, founder and CEO of Robin Schwartz PR and former Fox 2 News anchor/reporter

Barbara K. Smith, Ph.D. Co-founder, executive director of education, Michigan Underground Railroad Exploratory Collective, retired counseling director, DPSCD

Robert E. Thomas, J.D., Regulatory & Privacy, Ford Motor Co., chairman — Board of Zoning Appeals City of Detroit