Union Plus recently awarded $150,000 in scholarships to 116 students representing 39 unions, including 10 winners representing the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), in the 2014 Union Plus Scholarship Program. In this 23rd year of the program, more than 5,300 applications were received from union members and families in all 50 states. This year’s UFCW winners are:
- Brittany Androsko of Weedsport, N.Y., who is a member of UFCW Local One, has been awarded a $500 scholarship.
- Brianna Berry of Florence, Ky., who is a member of UFCW Local 75, as is her father Michael Berry, has been awarded a $2,000 scholarship.
- Amber Boyce of Orland Park, Ill., who is a member of UFCW Local 881, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
- Megan Byrne of Chicago, Ill., who is a member of UFCW Local 881, as is her mother Eileen Byrne, and whose father Joseph Byrne is a member of UFCW Local 1546, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
- Robert Clifford of Romeoville, Ill., whose father Robert Clifford is a member of UFCW Local 1546, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
- Casey Cooper of Greenville, Mich., who is a member of UFCW Local 951, as is his father Ken Cooper, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
- Robyn Jordan of New York, N.Y., whose mother Laura Jordan is a member of UFCW Local 400, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
- Lynne Rader of Bethpage, N.Y., who is a member of UFCW Local 1500, has been awarded a $4,000 scholarship.
- Datavia Sherman of Washington, D.C., whose mother Janet Sherman is a member of UFCW Local 400, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
- Martha Solis of Frederick, Colo., whose mother Dora Solis is a member of UFCW Local 7, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
“There are a lot of benefits to being a union member. Economic security is number one, and education is the first building block. Education sets up our kids for success, leadership and happiness,” said Leslie Tolf, president of Union Privilege, the organization behind Union Plus benefits and the scholarship program. “By awarding these scholarships we level the playing field – everyone deserves an equal shot at a quality education. We help union families feel just a little more secure in embarking on successful lives.”
Meet the 2014 UFCW Honorees
Brittany is studying for a job in medicine. While maintaining excellent grades she has also found many ways to give back to her community, including volunteering at the local food bank, at retirement homes and on highway cleanup projects. Brittany followed in both her parents’ footsteps by becoming a union member, and she is glad she did. She quotes her father who often says, “Working together and sticking together is what makes a union strong and powerful.”
Brianna is a hard worker, but she is also a student, and sometimes those priorities collide. Last year, for example, she was invited to participate in the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts, a three-week summer program that is an honor to attend. Many jobs would have required she make a choice, one or the other, but UFCW ensured Brianna could attend the program and still have a job waiting for her. Brianna is planning to major in chemistry and become a doctor.
Amber’s very first job was a union job with UFCW! That’s not a typical experience for many high-schoolers today, with so many young people often working for minimum wage and worse, and it sure made an impression on Amber. “Being in a union assures my family and me that I will always have a fair contract with my employer,” she says. The good wages she earns as a union member are helping Amber save for college; she’s planning to major in chemical engineering and spend her career making consumer products better and more eco-friendly.
Megan’s many volunteer and service commitments attest to her strong desire to help others. So does her career aspiration: she wants to become a physical therapist. Of course, Megan understands that good physical health begins with safe working conditions, and that’s why she’s grateful for the protection and job safety UFCW has provided to her, as well as to her both her parents. “My parents and I are proud to be part of a union,” she says.
Today many industries depend on computers to operate. Robert wants to work in the medical field, but not as a doctor – instead, he is majoring in computer science with the goal of designing programs and software that can help save lives. Of course, industries also depend on skilled workers, and that’s why Robert is proud to be part of a family with a strong union history, including his father in UFCW and many uncles in their unions. “Most of my family has made a living and survived in the working world thanks to the unions,” he says.
“Like father, like son,” Casey says. He followed his father into UFCW and has been grateful for the good wages and benefits that come with holding a union job. Yet, Casey also sees the hardship many other people face, including customers who work hard but still need food stamps to purchase their groceries. He is planning to major in social work and help people to receive all the rights and liberties to which they are entitled, he says, “such as a livable wage, a family, property and happiness.”
Robyn is a graduate student with a vision for improving people’s lives. Having completed her undergraduate work in two majors, Hispanic studies and nutrition, she has now begun studying for a graduate degree in public health, which she hopes to follow with a medical degree and a career spent improving and saving lives. Robyn feels that the extraordinary education she has received, from Catholic schools to the Ivy League, would not have been possible without her mother’s more than 30 years of hard work and good pay as a member of UFCW.
Lynne’s career goal is to become an optometrist and travel to the developing world to provide treatment for vision problems. Her many volunteer and service commitments – such as being a Girl Scout Leader, and raising money for water relief programs in Africa – have helped to prepare her for this career, and so has her work as a member of UFCW. “My job has helped to shape who I am today,” she says. “I have learned not only invaluable interpersonal skills, but I have also had the opportunity to work with customers and coworkers of various cultures, religions, perspectives and socio-economic backgrounds.”
Datavia enjoys the prospect of solving problems, gathering clues and protecting her community. She’s studying criminal justice, and hopes to become an FBI agent someday! There are many challenges ahead of her, including completing her degree and meeting all the physical requirements to become an agent, but she is confident she can make it. “I want to put criminals away,” she says, “so that the world can be a safer place to live.”
Martha, a nursing student, has faced many challenges on the course to completing her education. “The road to college can be even more complicated for a first-generation student like myself,” she says. “My family is Hispanic and many of them have never been able to pursue an education.” And while Martha deserves much credit for her hard work and achievements, so does her mother who has spent 18 years as a member of UFCW and created opportunities for her daughter. Martha is grateful not only for her mother’s good pay and benefits, but also for the way her mother and her coworkers at Safeway pitch in to support the community.
Learn More About the Union Plus Scholarship Program
Union Plus Scholarship awards are granted to students attending a two-year college, four-year college, graduate school or a recognized technical or trade school. Since starting the program in 1991, Union Plus has awarded more than $3.6 million in educational funding to more than 2,400 union members, spouses and dependent children.
In addition to the scholarships, Union Plus also offers the following benefits to help union families afford higher education:
- Discounts of 15 to 60 percent on college and graduate school test preparation courses from The Princeton Review. Discounts are available for classroom, online and private tutoring for the SAT®, ACT®, GMAT®, LSAT®, GRE® and MCAT® as well as college affordability and admissions online courses. Visit UnionPlus.org/CollegePrep or call 1-888-243-7737.
- Discounts on textbooks – Save 5% or more when you rent or buy textbooks. New, used and digital textbooks are available. And, you get free shipping on orders over $59. Visit UnionPlus.org/Textbooks.
- College Counseling Discounts: Union families can save 15% on college counseling from Collegewise, the admission division of The Princeton Review. College counselors help high school student find, apply and attend the correct college. Visit UnionPlus.org/CollegeCounsel for more information.
Union Plus is committed to helping union members and their families fund their college education. They have recently introduced two NEW programs to help members pay down their student loan debt:
- $500 Student Debt Eraser – grants to help Union Plus Credit Card, Mortgage and Insurance participants pay off their student loans. Visit UnionPlus.org/DebtEraser for more information.
- $20K Student Loan Giveaway – All union members can enter by August 15 to win up to $10,000 to pay off their student loans. Visit UnionPlus.org/Contest for more information.
Visit UnionPlus.org/Education for applications and benefit eligibility.
Union Plus also provides a wide range of money-saving benefits and services for Union members and families, including discounts on all-union AT&T wireless service, a credit card and mortgage with unique financial assistance, savings on travel and recreation, and more. To learn more, visit UnionPlus.org.