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Tuskegee’s Cotton among recipients of Rainbow PUSH, General Motors scholarship

November 07, 2018

John Graves, National Rainbow PUSH Global Automotive Summit
Lavonia Perryman, National Rainbow PUSH Global Automotive Summit
Michael Tullier, APR, Tuskegee University Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing

Lauren Cotton and Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.
Cotton and Jackson

Tuskegee University sophomore Lauren Cotton of Plymouth is among the 21 deserving Michigan natives recently receiving a scholarship deriving from a program led by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr.

Cotton and her fellow scholarship recipients were honored in Detroit on Nov. 2 during the 19th Annual Rainbow PUSH/CEF Global Automotive Summit’s Business and Education Awards Luncheon. There, Rainbow PUSH Coalition and General Motors presented scholarships totaling $165,000 for the 2018-19 school year.

“General Motors Global Corporate Giving has been the difference for several participating students,” said Jackson, president and founder of Rainbow PUSH Coalition. “Without GM’s generosity, many of these students would be unable to pursue their chosen career paths.”

Cotton, who is majoring in mechanical engineering, has already distinguished herself as a budding scientist and researcher. After attending a student engagement workshop at Calsonic Kansei Inc., a Nissan supplier, she applied for a patent in Sept. 2016 for a shield design that would decrease Nissan Altima warranty issues by preventing light leakage from the vehicle’s storage compartment. After she graduates, she aspires to establish her own engineering firm that provides product development and process improvement services.

“Michelle Obama once said, ‘Always stay true to yourself and never let anyone distract you from your goals.’ I try my best to keep this in mind when it comes to my work and everyday life, because I know I will succeed if I stay focused and do things on my own terms. Tuskegee has always done that for me, and I love that it has inspired me to do the same for others,” Cotton said.

Even before pursuing her mechanical engineering degree at Tuskegee, she focused on developing her engineering understanding and gaining valuable industry perspectives as a high school mentee in the Visteon STEM Mentorship Program. She continues that focus today as a member of the Society of Women Engineers and National Society of Black Engineers.

Her newly awarded Rainbow PUSH STEM-PLUS Scholarship is one of several she has garnered during her time in college. She has received other scholarships affiliated with the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering and Chevron, the National Association of Securities Professionals, and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. — among others.

In her spare time, Cotton tutors students at Tuskegee Institute Middle School, dances with the Marching Crimson Pipers' Piperettes, and previously danced with the Golden Essence Dance Team. In addition, as part of her participation in the Jack and Jill of America organization, she has been honored for her academic, leadership, service and oratory efforts.

Since 2011, General Motors has granted more than $1 million in student support through Rainbow PUSH-Excel scholarship programs

“At General Motors, we recognize the power of diversity and the role it plays in sparking ingenuity and creativity at our company,” said Ken Barrett, General Motors global chief diversity officer. “As we continue to face new challenges and innovative new solutions, we want to ensure a talent pipeline that’s rich of diverse backgrounds and unique perspectives to transform our industry.”

A majority of the 21 scholarship recipients are pursuing degrees at public and private schools in Michigan. Cotton is one of seven recipients attending an HBCU.

The annual awards luncheon is part of the Rainbow Push Automotive Project, which promotes full and equal participation in the economic growth of the global automotive industry for people of color. The project does so by forging partnerships within the industry to ensure the fair participation of minorities at every level of involvement, including employment, management, procurement, marketing, dealership development, finance, technology and board representation. For more information, visit

© 2018, Tuskegee University


General Motors is a global company committed to delivering safer, better and more sustainable ways for people to get around. General Motors, its subsidiaries and its joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Holden, Baojun, Wuling and Jiefang brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety and security services, and Maven, its personal mobility brand, can be found at


Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international organization formed in December 1996 by the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., through the merging of two organizations he founded:

Operation PUSH (People United to Serve Humanity), established in 1971, and the Rainbow Coalition, established in 1984. With headquarters in Chicago and offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, and Oakland, the organization works to make the American Dream a reality for all citizens, while advocating for peace and justice around the world. RPC is dedicated to improving the lives of all people by serving as a voice for the voiceless. Its mission is to protect, defend and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields while promoting peace and justice around the world. For more information, visit