In 2007 the Westchester College Federation of Teachers agreed to give four graduating students at WCC a scholarship founded on the principles of unionism. The scholarships were designed to reflect a belief in the value and contribution of unions to workers’ rights, health and safety in the workplace, the struggle for equality of labor and social justice.
Built into the requirements for receiving a scholarship was a substantial essay detailing first-hand and researched experience with a union, research and knowledge of what a union stands for, the purpose and promise of unionism and union history. We encouraged students to take time to address current labor issues in a positive and constructive way.
Above all, it was an effort on the part of the WCCFT to reward students for focusing on our mission as an organization representing the interests of workers. It was to be unique to our cause, not just another reward for scholastic achievement. Although scholastic achievement was one of the criteria used by the committee for decision making, the voice and written component of the application was prime. There were many other scholarships of a general nature for students to seek.
Over the years, many applications conformed to these requirements. They told of individual experiences of the students, their families and their cultures. Students from the United States as well as from other countries wrote about organizing efforts and strikes of local workers. They commented on how much unions meant to the welfare of their families; they speculated of the future of unionism. In short, they found a way to relate the labor movement to their personal lives as children of union members and as future workers themselves.
We are asking for your support to continue this work with our students. Due to WCCFT budget cuts the scholarship award is greatly reduced ($6000.00 to $500.00). By raising additional funds we can continue to empower more students to apply, to write and research about unionism and to move forward in their higher educational journeys.
Humbly submitted by Anne D’Orazio, Beth Holden and Joanna Peters, for the WCCFT Scholarship Committee.
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Checks should be made out to The American Federation of Teachers and sent to the Union Office.