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Scholarship Winners Become the Next Generation of Leaders

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October 28, 2020

The Blacks In Government (BIG) Employee Resource Group Port chapter has awarded scholarships to Seattle-area college students for the past 10 years as it works to promote equity in all aspects of American life, excellence in public service, and opportunity for all Americans. This year the chapter awarded two $1,000 scholarships to Seattle-area college students Victoria Mulugeta (2020 Evelyn Findley Outstanding Academic Achievement Award) and Elijah Jones (2020 Lilyian Caswell-Isley Outstanding Community Service Award).

At a recent virtual celebration to honor Victoria and Elijah, Port Director of Aviation Commercial Management, Dawn Hunter, winner of the Port’s 2019 Charles Blood Champion of Diversity award and BIG member, spoke about “good and necessary trouble” and the importance of fighting for what is right, while highlighting the two late civil rights heroes Congressman John Lewis and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

“My father taught me to be a strong advocate for change and never back down from those fighting for themselves,” Hunter said. “You are never too young to make a difference, and the Civil Rights Movement was championed by young people who wanted to make a change.”

BIG was established in 1975 as a national response to the need for African Americans in public service to organize around issues of mutual concern and use their collective strength to confront workplace and community issues. The Port’s chapter was established in 1993, and currently has over 70 members. Through the Port chapter’s annual scholarship award program, BIG works to support the next generation of leaders.

Here are the stories of this year’s scholarship recipients.

Victoria Mulugeta

Kentridge Senior High School
2020 Evelyn Findley Outstanding Academic Achievement Award

As Victoria works toward a bright future, she is reminded of her parents’ immigration journey from Ethiopia to the United States to give their family a better life.

“Over the years, my parents have largely motivated my desire to succeed. They have sacrificed so much to provide my siblings and me access to a quality education, and a life that was better than their own,” Victoria said.  “I am also motivated by my career goals, because I want to work in corporate America, a career field where I will undoubtedly be a part of the minority, and I will work hard to break barriers and work my way up to the Board of Directors of a Fortune 500 company.” 

Victoria pushed herself to excel academically over the years, challenging herself with many Advanced Placement (AP) and college level courses and graduating with a 3.93 grade point average. She also stayed busy outside of academics, serving as President of Kentridge High School DECA Club and was selected to attend the Washington State DECA Leadership Academy three years in a row. She was elected to Student Senate three times and participated in the Friends to Friends program (providing companionship to elderly citizens) and the University of Washington Young Executives of Color Program.

She is the daughter of BIG member, Ruth Shumeye, Business Manager in the Aviation Airport Dining and Retail Department at the Port.

Her goals include earning her Bachelor’s, Master's, and Doctorate degrees and becoming a CEO of a large company. She will be attending the University of Washington Foster School of Business this fall.

One of her teachers shared that “Victoria is the most outstanding student leader that I have had the privilege of teaching over the past 22 years”. 

“Being awarded this scholarship is important to me because coming from a large family of six people; I am going to be financially independent during my schooling and will be funding my education by myself,” Victoria said. “This scholarship will definitely help me with the costs associated with obtaining my degree and proves to me that my hard work will be worth it in the end.” 

Elijah Jones

Federal Way High
2020 Lilyian Caswell-Isley Outstanding Community Service Award

Elijah credits his parents for motivating him to get good grades in school and work hard inside and outside of the classroom. In addition to graduating with a 3.75 grade point average, Elijah participated in the Running Start program, which allowed him to earn his Associate of Arts degree in Business Administration from Highline Community College in June 2020. He made the Vice President’s honor roll each term.

“Over the past few years of high school and into college, success is the only thing that has been on my mind,” he said. “I’ve chosen to make the sacrifices necessary to be successful and build a better foundation for my future.”

Elijah excelled academically from an early age. In elementary school he was placed in the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program. In high school he was accepted into the highly rigorous international academic program, the Cambridge Program, and he was also in the Advanced Placement (AP) program throughout middle and high school.

He is the son of Derek Jones who works in the Aviation Landside Department as a Rental Car Facility Bus Driver at the Port.

Elijah is also a student leader who gives back to his community. He has tutored classmates in math starting in eighth grade and continuing throughout high school. He has also volunteered for the city of Federal Way summer program and the Martin Luther King Food Drive. He is a member of the Link Crew, National Honor Society, high school basketball team, and high school track team.

“Helping those who have helped me and mean the most to me is what motivates me, as well as helping those who don’t have the help they need and being that person that they can come to.”

He plans to study Business administration at the University of Washington Foster School of Business and earn an MBA in Finance Management, and later open his own investment firm, and provide opportunity and mentorship to a diverse group of men and women.

“Being awarded this scholarship is important to me because it introduces me to a new network of people and helps add to my resume for any future endeavors,” he said. “This scholarship will also help my family and I by lessening the financial burden of paying for college.”

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