June 6, 2017
By Silver Krieger
New York, NY – With the help of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), a group of deserving students will now be able to fulfill their dreams of going to college.
On Monday, May 23rd, students attended a ceremony at UFT Headquarters in lower Manhattan and were each given a $5,000 college scholarship, at the 48th annual Albert Shanker Scholarship Fund awards. The award is named for a New York City teacher who was president of the UFT as well as its national affiliate, the American Federation of Teachers. The program has provided over $45 million since 1969, and each year provides almost $1 million in grants. The awards are funded by member union dues.
“These scholarship awards…are an extension of the work New York City public school teachers do every day,” said United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew. “Teachers work tirelessly to provide every student with the opportunity to achieve their dreams.”
The Shanker Scholarship winners are nominated by high school UFT chapter leaders and are selected based on academic achievement and financial need. Each award is paid out over four years. The winners were announced in April.
This year, the 181 New York City public school winners included Noah Sewlal, a senior at Frank Sinatra High School for the Performing Arts in Queens. Sewlal plans to major in early childhood education at Binghamton University, and wants to become a teacher and work with children with special needs. Said Sewlal, “I thought the ceremony was a great experience. It was inspiring to see so many students from NYC receiving the scholarship. I enjoyed hearing the colleges each candidate will be attending in the Fall semester. My favorite subject is English and Science, specifically, Earth Science. The solar system interests me. I feel like my writing skills are proficient and allow me to express my opinions freely. I always try to make sure my voice… is expressed through my writing.” Sewlal also works summers as a day camp counselor with three to four year-olds at Sarah Lawrence College.
Sewlal’s mother, Glodean Holder, is also being supported by the union. At 38 years old, she is currently working as a school paraprofessional at P.S. 16 in the Bronx with fourth graders in special education, with three paraprofessionals and one teacher in the room for eleven students, but is now earning her degree to become a teacher, through a program via the UFT at Empire State College in the Bronx. Currently holding a high-school diploma, she is taking a night-school course for paras who want to become teachers, and has 18 credits so for, out of the 40 which are required. The UFT funds about three quarters of the cost of the courses.
“UFT has been great about helping with the cost of these courses,” she says. “I’ve worked as a paraprofessional for about four years. I am so thankful to UFT for not only giving me the opportunity to further my education, but also for the help they’ve given to my son – as a single
mom, every little bit helps.” She also says that inspiration extends from her teachers to her son. “Teachers I work with [at my job] inspire me, and I inspire my son. We’re kind of competitive! He says ‘Mom, I’m going to be a teacher before you, I say no! So we’re both working towards that.” She is inspired by her principal as well, Yvonne Williams, saying, “She really encouraged me to push on, and asks, ‘When am I going to hire you as a teacher?’”
Of his mother’s accomplishments, her son says, “I’m proud of my mom for pursuing her education with the help of the union. She’s setting the example for my siblings and I. She isn’t just settling, she’s developing and expanding her horizons. There is no limit to what one can achieve.”