Pictured: Samiya Muhammed and her parents, along with Pamela Moore, DPS Foundation President and CEO.

On Friday, February 15th DPS Staff and I attended the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Go Red for Women event at Ford Field. We attended to support the winners of the AHA’s One Bold Girl, One Bold Thought Scholarship Contest: Samiya Muhammed, Zharia Akeem, and Eleanor Aro. These young women are juniors at Cass Tech, Renaissance and Western International high schools, respectively, who each have a bold vision to improve the culture of health in the City of Detroit.

Samiya, our first place winner of the scholarship, wrote her scholarship essay on Mobile Care – an urgent care on wheels which would drive around Detroit neighborhoods to supply healthcare and fresh food to those who lack transportation. At the Go Red for Women event, Samiya presented her idea to the audience, along with her own personal story. When she was only a child, Samiya almost lost her life to a brain tumor. She is acutely aware that without access to medical care, she would not be alive today, and it is this experience that opened her eyes to the need for better medical resources in our communities. Samiya’s goal is to increase access to healthcare in Detroit, and she plans to use her scholarship money to help pay for college.

Eleanor, our third place winner, also wants to improve the health of Detroit’s communities by increasing access to healthy food. She is aware that much of Detroit is considered to be a “food desert” and she wants to change this by increasing the number of food pantries within these neighborhoods. Food pantries will not only provide healthy food, but also teach residents how to prepare healthy dishes. Furthermore, Eleanor believes that local, independent grocery stores should receive tax breaks as an incentive to move into underserved neighborhoods, which will increase communities’ health while boosting their economy. Eleanor plans to use her scholarship money to help pay for college, where she wants to pursue Environmental Engineering. She is grateful that DPSCD has consistently informed her of scholarship opportunities and extracurricular programs that will help her succeed in achieving these goals.

Zharia, our second place winner, echoed the same appreciation for DPSCD providing scholarships and extracurricular activities, along with job opportunities and advanced classes. Since 2017, Zharia has worked at Drew Farm, a farm located at the Charles R. Drew Transition Center where a multitude of crops are grown. Working at Drew Farm, Zharia has seen first-hand how healthy foods are supplied to communities as the farm’s produce goes directly to DPSCD’s free breakfast and lunch programs. She will be using her scholarship money to purchase a new computer, as her own is worn out from so much coding. Zharia told me that during this school year, she has spent at least two hours a day working on coding mathematical algorithms. Her dream school is MIT (for both undergrad and grad school!), and her dream job is to decode messages for a government agency, such as the FBI or CIA.

These young women’s stories, ideas, and dreams are so inspirational. We at the Detroit Public Schools Foundation are grateful for the AHA for providing them with scholarship money to support their dreams and career goals.