Mayor Lightfoot, CTA and CPS Announce “CTA Elevating Futures Scholarship Fund” Student Winners for 2021-2022

May 25, 2021

In its second year, CTA’s Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) scholarship program, created by CTA and RPM Phase One contractor Walsh-Fluor, helps Chicago youth pursue degrees in construction and engineering-related fields

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. and CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson announced today that three Chicago Public School seniors have been named recipients of the “CTA Elevating Futures Scholarship Fund”, launched by CTA and the Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) Phase One project contractor Walsh-Fluor in 2020.

The scholarship program provides $5,500 per year for four years to economically disadvantaged students who plan to pursue studies in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) for engineering and construction-related degrees.

"Now more than ever, we must continue to provide gainful and enriching opportunities for our young people—who have suffered so much over the course of this pandemic," said Mayor Lightfoot. "This innovative scholarship program will serve as city's latest youth enrichment initiative and give our young people access to financial aid and mentorship support as they pursue academic excellence. I want to thank our partners at CPS and the CTA for continuing to invest in the lives of our youth and providing them with the resources they need to build successful careers and participate in our city's economic vibrancy."

“At CTA, we are committed to investments in the communities we serve in addition to making important investments in our infrastructure to improve our service for customers,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “By partnering with our contractor Walsh-Fluor, these scholarships open doors for students who might not otherwise be able to afford college, and giving them the chance to pursue education and build careers in the construction and engineering fields.”

"Ensuring students have the ability to attend college and pursue their dreams is an important step in achieving equity in public education," said CPS CEO, Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “The ‘CTA Elevating Futures Scholarship Fund,' will help ensure that students who want to pursue their career dreams don’t encounter a financial barrier when entering college. This scholarship is an important resource for our students and I want to thank the CTA for championing Chicago's most deserving students."

“After such a challenging year, we are pleased to build on last year’s success with three scholarship recipients,” said Dave Shier, Walsh-Fluor RPM Project Executive. “Our first-year scholarship recipients will be getting work experience this summer as interns in the construction and engineering fields.”

“The ‘CTA Elevating Futures Scholarship Fund’ has been a pivotal opportunity for our Chicago Scholars engaging in STEM education and careers. In a year when financial support for higher education, as well as career training, has been limited, we are grateful for the ongoing support of the City of Chicago, the Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Public Schools and Walsh-Fluor to these students,” said Jeffery Beckham, Jr., CEO of Chicago Scholars. “We are proud to create pathways alongside community leaders for our Chicago Scholars who are committed to the pursuit of higher education.”

The program was created in 2020 as part of the CTA’s historic $2.1 billion Red and Purple Modernization Phase One (RPM) project. Last year three students were awarded scholarships as well, with each student now pursuing degrees in the construction and engineering fields. Project contractor Walsh-Fluor Design-Build team is sponsoring the scholarships and making paid internships on the RPM project available to scholarship recipients.

The first-of-its-kind CTA initiative provides scholarships, mentoring support and career guidance for under-resourced college students. 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.

Donated by Walsh-Fluor to help offset tuition costs for CPS graduates, the $250,000 ‘CTA Elevating Futures Scholarship Fund’ will provide 10 financial aid scholarships from 2020 through 2023 for students who plan on majoring in science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) for engineering and construction-related degrees. Students who are awarded scholarships will also be eligible to apply for paid summer internships with Walsh-Fluor and the CTA.

The 2021 CTA Elevating Futures Scholars are:

Sabine Ramirez, 18, Hegewisch

Sabine is the top-ranked student in her class at EPIC Academy High School, where she has taken an advanced course load, including many AP and honors classes. She is passionate about mechanical engineering and plans to pursue a career in the field. Ultimately, Sabine would like to create solutions with STEM for disparities in our world. She loves the design element of engineering and has been able to explore this through various STEM programs including Project Syncere. Her ultimate goal is to become the head engineer of her entrepreneurial project to create a new generation of self-reparative robots designed for industrial and military settings and workspaces. Sabine would like to support increased STEM education in elementary schools by developing robotics kits for entry-level STEM learning.  Teachers note that Sabine is a role model for her classmates, demonstrating strong intelligence, deep curiosity, positivity and a tireless work ethic. Sabine has been admitted to engineering programs at Purdue, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Michigan and Boston University, and is currently finalizing her college decision.

Ricky Ho, 17, Bridgeport
Ricky attends William Jones College Prep, where he has followed a four-year, pre-engineering course, taking advanced computer science and math classes, along with honors civil engineering and architecture. Ricky is a dedicated student who has always been passionate about computers. He believes the endless possibilities in computer science allow us to solve issues in any industry, and he aspires to work for a large tech company developing solutions utilizing artificial intelligence. In particular, he is interested in creating improvements in transportation safety through autonomous driving. Ricky has explored web development and coding through camps and internships which have taught him valuable technical skills and fueled his love for computers. Teachers commend Ricky for his hard work, problem-solving abilities and positive influence on others. Ricky will be pursuing a degree in computer science at the University of Michigan.

Axel Hernandez, 19, Back of the Yards
Axel attends William Jones College Prep, where he has taken a rigorous course load, including four AP classes in his senior year. He plans to pursue a career in business administration and management to create a better future for himself and his community. Axel has been working for his family’s construction company since he was 15 years old. Guided by his father, he is learning about the business and taking on an increasing amount of management responsibilities. Plus, he has been developing his business skills through freelance visual art and video production work with various companies and gaming organizations. At school, Axel is involved in several organizations, including the Minority Leaders of Impact club, which seeks to empower minority students through service and diverse programming. Axel is determined, creative and hard working. Always prepared, he seeks to maximize efficiency in order to achieve his goals. Axel has been admitted to the schools of business at both Loyola University Chicago and DePaul University, and is currently finalizing his college decision.

For more information about this program, visit ¬CTA’s web site at transitchicago.com/rpm/workforce-opportunities or Chicago Scholars’ web site at chicagoscholars.org/elevatingfutures.


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