CTA’s Red and Purple Modernization scholarship program, created in collaboration with RPM contractor Walsh-Fluor, helps Chicago youth pursue degrees in STEM fields.
CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr., CPS CEO Pedro Martinez, Chicago Scholars, and Walsh-Fluor Design-Build Team announced today that three Chicago Public School seniors have been awarded scholarships from the “CTA Elevating Futures Scholarship Fund,” which provides assistance to CPS students who want to pursue construction and engineering related college educations and future careers.
This scholarship program provides $5,500 each year for four years to economically disadvantaged students who plan to pursue studies in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math (STEM) for engineering and construction-related degrees. The program was launched in 2020 as part of the historic $2.1 billion Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) Phase One project and concludes with the award of these scholarships.
Since its inception, the scholarship program has awarded more than $225,000 in financial aid to the recipients. This year’s winners will join eight additional students who were awarded the scholarship in past years and are now pursuing degrees in the construction and engineering fields. Walsh-Fluor is sponsoring the scholarships and offering students the opportunity to apply for paid internships on the RPM project.
“Despite entering high school at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the class of 2023 persevered, earning a record-breaking $2 billion in scholarships,” said CPS CEO Pedro Martinez. “We are incredibly grateful to the CTA for recognizing and supporting our accomplished graduates, Jonathan and Austin. We look forward to seeing all that they accomplish for themselves and for their futures.”
“We are proud that CTA has provided a launching point for students across the city to enter into the transportation, construction and engineering fields,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “Allowing students to make these decisions early in their careers inspires the next generation of workers to reimagine public transportation.”
“The Walsh-Fluor construction team, which is building the Red and Purple Modernization Phase One project, really enjoy what we do,” said Walsh-Fluor Project Executive David Shier. “Therefore, we are really excited to invite the new energy that young people bring to this project and the industry.”
“The partnership between Chicago Scholars and the CTA has been so fruitful, both for our Scholars and their communities,” said Jeff Beckham, Jr., Chicago Scholars’ CEO. “We’ve heard over and over from students how meaningful this scholarship is, and we’re thrilled to have been a part of it for the past five years. We just wish there was more funding available to continue the partnership in the future.”
This CTA initiative has provided scholarships, mentoring support and career guidance for under-resourced college students since 2020. The scholarship program is administered by Chicago Scholars, a nonprofit dedicated to college access, college success and leadership development for first-generation and low-income students in Chicago.
The 2023-2024 CTA Elevating Futures Scholars are:
Jonathan Vazquez, West Elsdon
Jonathan Vazquez graduated from John Hancock College Prep last spring. He was on the honor roll, and studied advanced pre-engineering, construction and several STEM courses. In his high school career, he was a member of the Spanish Honor Society, participated in Model UN, and played on the varsity soccer team. Including these commitments, Jonathan also worked several jobs outside of school and is a participant in the ACE (Architecture, Construction, and Engineering) Mentor Program. Since childhood, Jonathan has helped his uncle every summer on construction projects. Through his experiences and learning how engineering can be environmentally focused while helping communities, his passion grew. Jonathan wants to major in civil engineering and hopes to one day have his own construction company. He will attend the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Austin Washington, Kenwood
Austin Washington attended Kenwood Academy where he was enrolled in several STEM courses including pre-engineering and construction and AP classes and was a member of the National Society of Black Engineers. He participated in several sports and a variety of STEM and leadership organizations including SMASH STEM Scholars, Obama Youth Job Corp/Urban Alliance, Jack and Jill of America, NAACP, and The Fellowship Initiative through JP Morgan Chase. He is the president of his chapter for Top Teens of America and is involved in numerous other experiences in volunteering and leadership. Austin will attend Morehouse College this fall and will major in mechanical or construction engineering. He hopes to travel the country and build affordable housing for those in need as an engineering consultant.
A third student was also awarded an Elevating Futures scholarship for 2023-2024.
For more information about this program, visit CTA’s web site at transitchicago.com/rpm or Chicago Scholars’ web site at chicagoscholars.org/elevatingfutures.
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