Editor’s note: For Milwaukee County Transit System’s first-ever Rosa Parks Tribute Scholarship essay contest, high school seniors who will attend a trade school, college or university responded to the Parks quote, “Each person must live their life as a model for others.’’
Over 50 students submitted essays, which were reviewed by a diverse panel from the Milwaukee County Transit System, the Milwaukee County Department of Transportation, and the Milwaukee County Office on African American Affairs. The three winners received a $1,000 scholarship toward their higher education.
‘It will someday be my job to protect the rights of disadvantaged people’
Kayla Denyce Jimenez is a senior at Ronald Reagan High School.
In order to maintain a stable, healthy and loving world, the responsibility to be compassionate, respectful members of society fall upon us all. As an 18-year-old, Latina and African-American woman in America, I have grown accustomed to the harshness surrounding individuals who are not ‘’cookie cutter.’’
To quote Rosa Parks, ‘’Each person must live their life as a model for others.’’ This statement forces me to ponder what kind of person I have been throughout my lifetime. Have I been kind? Open-minded? Have I been the type of person I wish to see more of? I can only hope I have been and continue on my journey of self-realization and humanitarianism.
In efforts to shine a light on the importance of compassion, intellect and humanitarian conviction, I have made myself available to varying forms of service and leadership positions within the community, specifically in regards to my high school community. I’ve found my service acts of choice tend to be geared toward both education and equality.
I have participated in a walkout from my high school in order to protest in front of the County Courthouse for the rights of DACA recipients, donated more than one hundred dollars’ worth of school supplies to economically disadvantaged students, volunteered at my high school’s open house to support the arts — specifically the drama department — and often I would get excused absences from classes to aid the office secretaries with paperwork.
When I look back at my hours of service work, I recall the DACA walkout fondly. DACA is an acronym for ‘’Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.’’ Essentially, it allows undocumented immigrant children to enter America and remain here to attend college and be eligible to receive a work permit. President Donald Trump ordered an end to DACA in 2017, triggering a legal challenge that ended when the Supreme Court ruled that it should be kept in place. President Joe Biden wants to give DACA recipients permanent legal status and a path to citizenship, but DACA is still facing legal challenges.
I am a Latina woman who knows multiple fantastic, intelligent, successful and kind individuals who are supposed to be protected under DACA status.
I felt it was my humanitarian duty to participate in the protest. IMMIGRANT RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS.
It is my belief that activism has led me to my career path. I will be attending law school in order to become a civil rights attorney. It will someday be my job to protect the rights of disadvantaged people as well as give representation to the underprivileged and underrepresented. I refuse to stand by as blatant injustice is being broadcast to the nation. I suppose one could call it a moment of personal reflection; however, I refer to it as the moment I witnessed a little piece of history being made.
I can only hope to reach the level of pure human kindness, dedication and humanitarianism as Rosa Parks.
‘Once I started becoming the person I wanted to see in others, I became much happier’
Anya Ramos is a senior at Audubon Technology and Communication High School.
I always hear people say that they “need to get out of this city,” followed by a complaint regarding what needs to change for them to be happy. Those statements always rubbed me the wrong way.
It truly doesn’t matter where you are. What matters is how you choose to live and contribute to your environment. Rosa Parks’ quote, “Each person must live their life as a model for others,” is a value I stand by every day. Don’t get the meaning confused — her statement does not mean to live your life for others. Living as a model is becoming the change you wish to see in the world.
I used to live in California but due to family circumstances, I had to move to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The culture shock was real, and I found myself ruminating on things I wished were different in my school, community and the city.
As a sophomore, I began to apply myself to leadership and community roles. Through my leadership roles, I aided the growth toward a more positive school culture by organizing events toward school spirit. Some events included tutoring sessions before finals, schoolwide community events and a kindness week around Valentine’s Day.
One of my concerns had to do with the community. I could have chosen to sit there and wait for someone else to affect change or follow the footsteps that I took to improve my school. I chose the second option.
I started by planning community days for my school’s annual Thanksgiving outings and consistently volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club. By my junior year, I co-founded a student-led community service club. In this club, I mentored students multiple times a week to guide them into the professional world while teaching them how to organize events. The most memorable projects we launched included pre-school outings and a clothing drive.
After I actively put myself in positions to influence change, everything I disliked about my new city turned into a passion to continuously help improve the environment around me. Once I started becoming the person I wanted to see in others, I became much happier and attracted a lot more positive people.
After all of my experiences, I have a strong passion for my college education and career goals. I aspire to become a lawyer, but I know for me to have a successful time in law school and the career itself, I will need to have a wide range of experiences. I plan to expand my cultural knowledge through study abroad programs and my major while developing my abilities in a diverse range of areas. As a lawyer, I hope to diversify corporate workspaces while making each career attainable and comfortable for those who have been told otherwise in the past.
Every step I take in this career will be in the best interest of the community, and I plan on forever trying to keep improving my life and mindset as a model for others.
‘Living our lives as models for others makes it easier to reach the end’
Iman Snobar is a senior at Ronald Reagan High School.
Positive actions can create a domino effect for good.
As an only child, I never imagined that I would be helping my peers and my greater community at large as an advocate and assistant to others. In an era of sociopolitical turmoil, especially during the tumultuous reign of COVID-19, I felt that I may not be able to live my life to the fullest in a year of various unknowns.
Due to the onset pandemic, I felt helpless and afraid since I’m immunocompromised; there weren’t enough precautionary measures implemented for me to work in a safe environment or to help those around me.
This changed when I discovered a dire need for poll workers and that I was eligible to apply. I became a certified election inspector at the end of July. I’ve been able to apply Rosa Parks’ quote, “‘Each person must live their life as a model for others,” to my work at the polls.
Every time I enter the polls, I take an oath to be fair and nonpartisan. However, there have been stories of supposed fraud and corruption that are quite the opposite of the truth. Becoming an election worker allowed me to take my duty as a citizen to express the people’s democracy. I was never asked where my political beliefs aligned because I was there as an assistant to the people.
I’ve realized that I’ve become a vital lifeline for people’s voices to be heard. Working in various elections, I know there are always unsolicited incidents, and being the only woman of color in my ward, I still had to maintain an unbiased approach toward my fellow neighbors. I’ve become a model toward my co-workers, and I hope to those at the polls through maintaining my composure even as I saw people refuse to wear masks and display Confederate flags and politically based propaganda.
This concept — approaching others without ill feelings — has allowed me to understand others and our environment better. I hope that through my actions those around me can continue to realize we are more than different colored political parties. We’re people with differing viewpoints, and because we aren’t the same, understanding one another isn’t always easy. These experiences allow me to apply my approaches to the real world. I may not change someone else’s perspective, but communication, understanding and intervention enable future progress.
To me, I’ve just begun my life as a model toward others, but I’m reassured that it isn’t the end. To me, living my life as a role model is through actions no matter how big or small; from helping carry bags for a neighbor from the store to persistence to carry on in my studies in achieving my dreams of becoming an attorney.
Every road is different, but along the way, there are signs toward our destination and living our lives as models for others makes it easier to reach the end.