CHICAGO — The first group of Ella French scholars were awarded Sunday and honored the legacy of fallen Chicago police Officer Ella French with an investment in the education of young people.
Sadie Moussa is a senior at Taft High School and an aspiring emergency room nurse.
“The commitment of service and just being a great person with beautiful character is important to me,” Sadie Moussa said.
Moussa is one of a dozen high school students receiving scholarships in honor of French, who was killed in the line of duty two years ago.
“I remember when it was first put on the news that she passed away because it could happen to anyone, including my dad,” Moussa said.
Nearly all of the scholarship winners have a parent who is a Chicago police officer.
They wrote essays and drew inspiration from French’s life.
Her mother, Elizabeth, a retired teacher, read them all.
“They understand about community and wanting to make people’s lives better, which was what Ella wanted to do,” Elizabeth said.
The recipients were recognized at a luncheon at Harry Carry’s.
Officer Carlos Yanez Jr, who was injured in the shooting that claimed French’s life, attended the event.
The high school students received awards of $2,000.
For this inaugural year, several first ear college students, like Mark Rodriguez, who is studying computer science, were honored with $500 for tuition, books or transportation.
“I just wanted to focus on the dedication of her life and the sacrifice you have to have to be a police officer,” Rodriguez said.
“We need our police and we need to support our police,” Allan Reich, who is on the Chicago Police Foundation board, said. “And in times like these, also we need to support the young people in our society and support education.”
With nearly $30,000 to start, Reich planted the seeds for the Ella French scholarship and expects it to grow every year.
“Ella French personified what it meant to be a person in service to the community,” Reich said. “She cared about people, she cared about children, she cared about animals.”
Abigail Murzyn wanted to become a veterinarian.
“I think it’s a really great thing keeping her legacy and inspiring others,” Murzyn, a junior at Mother McAuley High School, said.
Elizabeth is full of pride for these scholars and their future plans, leaving their own marks on the dash between her daughter’s day of birth and when she died.
“In some small way, all of these students who will be continuing her dash for her, and I couldn’t ask for a better legacy for my daughter,” Elizabeth said. “I just couldn’t.”