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Mekhi Miller - 2021 Scholarship Winner

Throughout his time in the Valhalla Union Free School District, Mekhi Miller has always been one to participate in many different activities. He was a member of school sports teams, numerous clubs, the band program, and outside mentoring programs. Through these many activities he learned to put in the hard work necessary to achieve positive and lasting results.

Throughout his middle and high school career, he was an active member of the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Society, the R.I.S.E. Male Mentorship Group, the Kappa League Leadership Mentoring Program, the Valhalla Business Skills Olympics Team, the Jazz Band, the PDC Foundation, the Valhalla Schools Equity Committee, the National Honors Society, and the World Language Honors Society. He has also tutored in math for the National Honors Society, traveled to Japan with the PDC Foundation, served in the Senior Vice-President and Senior President officer positions for the Kappa League Leadership Mentoring Program, won the AAMW Business Skills Olympics competition two consecutive years with the Valhalla Business Skills Olympics Team, and did various community service activities throughout Westchester and neighboring communities. Although he attributes all of these activities to helping develop him into the young leader he is today, he most cherishes his time as an athlete for the Valhalla Indoor Track Team and the Valhalla Spring Track Team, was a near irreplaceable member of the Varsity 4x100 “A” team and was also a member of the Varsity 4x200 and 4x400 teams. He earned the Rookie of the Year award for his contributions.

Mekhi’s current career aspiration is to become a software developer. He wants to cultivate his programming skills so that he can create video games or otherwise have some hand in developing them. He wants to aim for the top and become a big name in the industry. He would often be excited for computer science classes since it was an opportunity for him to learn and grow.

In the fall, he’ll be excited to take his programming potential to the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). There he will pursue a degree in computer science, but more specifically, it will be in Game Design & Development.

His winning essay was entitled “Problems Facing The Black Community and the Role of Black Law Enforcement.”

Their essay was entitled: Problems Facing The Black Community and the Role of Black Law Enforcement.

Though I think that there are many enduring problem that the Black Community has had to face for centuries, one problem that was in the spotlight during the summer of 2020, was the treatment that members of the Black Community received from law enforcement officers. There were many instances of police brutality throughout that summer that were recorded and put on social media for everyone to see. With everyone being home at the time due to the pandemic, everyone’s attention wasn’t split by their everyday activities and instead was given to this major issue. The problem has been present for years on end, but this summer being a time where everyone had to confront it was very important. Many people who don’t have to and probably never will experience police brutality themselves were now able to see that there is a problem within law enforcement. Many of the people that believe that America is not a place where people with prejudice should have power or pardons were able to see and have proof that this is what happens in America anyways. However, despite the calls for the proper training of all law enforcement officers and actual consequences for law enforcement officers who have used excessive force on people of color due to prejudice, the problem has not gone away.

This problem has existed since way before this summer and it is deep rooted like many of the other race problems that members of the Black Community face. It will take a lot of work to make change and I recognize that. From outside of all of the government and law enforcement, regular citizens must push and pressure the law makers and enforcers to make the positive change they would like to see within the law. There are problems with the current laws that are allowing this to occur so there needs to be change there. Within the government, they need to account for both the laws and the actual law enforcement. They would be able to make is so law enforcement is getting proper training that condemns police brutality against anyone. They also need to make sure law enforcement officers that do use excessive force due to prejudice are held responsible and punished properly. Inside law enforcement itself, there needs to be an overhaul of the beliefs of who is protecting the law. As I said before, people with prejudice shouldn’t have power and pardons. Black law enforcement officers should have a hand in ensuring that their coworkers do not hold prejudice. Those that do shouldn’t just be allowed to continue as they are as they could act on that prejudice and be another law enforcement officer that uses excessive force on people of color. Black law enforcement officers shouldn’t be the only ones policing their own coworkers, but they definitely have to be active in the process to ensure change is actually occurring. In addition, I believe that Black law enforcement officers should try to play big parts in the community. When they make their presence known, they can inspire younger generations and create relations with them that set younger people on the right track. They should be aiming to protect the younger generations physically, but also emotionally by actually providing a safe space and relating to young people of color. Some young people of color don’t see many adults that look like them, so Black law enforcement officers should look to fill in that role.