August 29, 2020

Larry Marquardt Scholarship winners head to college

Union membership helps workers build a better future for their families. AFSCME members and their families benefit from annual scholarship opportunities to pursue their education goals.

Children of AFSCME members or retirees who are high school seniors or college students under the age of 25—as well as members in good standing who plan to attend school full-time—are eligible to apply for AFSCME Council 31’s annual Larry Marquardt Scholarship.

The $2,000 scholarship honors the first executive director of Council 31 and a tireless union organizer.

Recipients are chosen by the Marquardt Scholarship Committee, composed of Linc Cohen (retired Editor of On the Move), Letitia Taylor (retired AFSCME International Union Area Director) and Rosetta Daylie (retired Council 31 Associate Director). This year’s scholarship winners are Rachel Ashley, Mary Hicks and Edward McMillian.

“It boosts my spirits to see the promise and determination of our young people to make a difference,” Council 31 Associate Director Claudia Roberson said. “Children of AFSCME members know firsthand the power of a union to make a difference in the lives of union members, their families and all working people. Congratulations to all our 2020 applicants, and good luck.”

Rachel Ashley, Charleston

Rachel Ashley plans to attend Eastern Illinois University this fall to pursue a degree in elementary education. Her mother, AFSCME Local 981 member Leslie Ashley-McLean, is an office manager at EIU and her local’s chief steward.

“My mom and her union fight for the working class,” Rachel said in her essay. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, my mom had to fight even harder for the working people at the university … to allow those who could work from home to do so … to get personal protective equipment… and to allow seasonal employees to be able to receive unemployment benefits.

“The labor movement has always been important to workers, but it’s more important than ever today,” Rachel said. “The union is literally fighting for people’s lives right now!”

Mary Hicks, Galesburg

Mary’s mother, Gayla Hicks, is an office associate at Hill Correctional Center and a member of AFSCME Local 1274. Mary will be attending the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. She said her goal is to become a school counselor, “so I would be within the school’s union.”

In her application essay, Mary focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on essential workers.

“Not all of these employees are being protected or feel that they have a voice to communicate their concerns to their employer,” she said. “Employees who are part of a union have a voice” and “help make a better work environment for all.

“Labor unions were originally formed to help protect employees from unsafe, unsanitary working conditions, low pay and long hours,” Mary concluded. “Many things have changed in our world since the first unions were formed but it is clear unions are still playing an important part.”

Edward McMillian, Chicago

Edward McMillian will study at Morehouse College this fall. He plans to become an accountant and dreams of owning his own firm. His mother, Jan Hooks, is a public service administrator at the state of Illinois and a member of AFSCME Local 2081.

Edward believes in the power of unions to ensure that more working people have access to affordable health care, especially during the current public health crisis.

“The labor movement is needed today more than ever,” he said in his application essay. “Workers are concerned about their health and the steps their job will take to ensure that they have a clean workspace.”

Edward already knows an important fact. Without unions, he says, “bosses would not take the necessary precautions to ensure their workers’ safety.”

Click here to find out about more union scholarship opportunities.

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