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By Alisha Dixon

On Friday, family, friends and officials from First Independence Bank gathered to honored a dozen DPSCD middle and high school students for writing the best essay’s in the bank’s 5th annual First Independence Bank Essay Scholarship contest.

The annual contest, held at FIB’s West Grand Blvd. branch, is an opportunity for the bank and the community to acknowledge and celebrate academic excellence in DPSCD, something that is far too often overshadowed by news of school closures and low performing schools.

Honoring these students, FIB officials said, is a part of the banks commitment to investing in the education of Detroit children.

To enter the contest, students submitted essays of up to 500 words. Middle school students were required to explain who their hero or your favorite person was and why and high school students described where they wanted to be in 5 years.

The top three middle and high school essays were awarded scholarships ranging from $150 to $2,000. In addition to the awards, all essay participants received certificates of participation.

“There were some outstanding essays and it was difficult to choose. We looked at choice of words, grammar, spelling, punctuation, was the question answered and the essay submitted by the deadline date,” said La Toya Nailer, Treasury Management Specialist, First Independence Bank.

La Toya Nailer (First Independence Bank), Lauryn Carter,
Diego Navarrete, Kathryn Black (First Independence Bank)

First Independence officials Rhonda Pugh, Kathryn Black and La Toya Nailer began the awards ceremony by presenting scholarship awards to the first place middle and high school winners.

Lauryn Carter of Bates Academy received the first place middle school award of $500. Diego Navarrete was presented with the first place high school award of $2,000. With their parents proudly standing by, both Carter and Navarrete said they were happy to receive the awards.

“I’m really excited about winning the award!” said Navarrete.

Councilwoman Mary Sheffield, the ceremony’s guest speaker, congratulated the students for winning the awards and for their commitment to education. This commitment she said must be maintained in order for the city to have a successful future.

“I represent the children and parents of children in DPS. We can’t have a thriving city without quality a education system within our city,” the councilwoman said.

The following is a full list of the 2017 First Independence Bank Essay Scholarship winners and honorable mention recipients:

High School Winners

Diego Navarrete-Cass Technical High School ($2,000 Scholarship)

Carrimia Ownes-Martin Luther King Jr. Sr. High School ($1,250 Scholarship)

Morgan Fisher-Cass Technical High School ($750 Scholarship)


Middle School Winners

Lauryn Carter-Bates Academy ($500 Scholarship)

Maria Begum-Davison Elementary-Middle School ($350 Scholarship)

Samia Elliott-Bates Academy ($150 Scholarship)


High School Honorable Mentions

Darnisha Law-Cass Technical High School ($25.00 gift card)

Christie Jackson-Cass Technical High School ($25.00 gift card)

Kyrie Bostic-Cass Technical High School ($25.00 gift card)


Middle School Honorable Mentions

Anaya Smith-Foreign Language Immersion & Cultural Studies ($25.00 gift card)

Syeda Ara-Davison Elementary-Middle School ($25.00 gift card)

Isratt Alam-Davison Elementary-Middle School ($25.00 gift card)








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