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42nd annual Albert Shanker Scholarship Fund Awards Celebration
Following their dreams
250 graduating seniors head to college with help from UFT
by Cara Metz | June 23, 2011 New York Teacher issue
“I can’t stop smiling, I’m really happy!” said Kimberly Belgrave, of Manhattan’s Urban Assembly Academy of Government and Law, talking about the UFT Albert Shanker Scholarship Award she will be taking with her to Wheaton College in Massachusetts next year.
Belgrave is one of this year’s 250 UFT scholarship winners. Collectively, they will be reaping the benefits of the $1 million that the union’s scholarship fund disburses annually to deserving students from low-income families.
Scholarship winners — along with their friends, families, teachers and guidance counselors — came to UFT headquarters on June 7 for the 42nd annual scholarship awards ceremony and reception.
Over the years, the union has given $42 million to more than 8,000 New York City public school students to help ease the financial burden of higher education.
“This is in our DNA as teachers, to give to students,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew told the recipients. “What you’ve done up to this point is amazing — and you need to continue for the rest of your lives bringing this same level of passion” to your school and work lives, he said.
And, Mulgrew noted, the union will follow all of the winners to keep them on track every semester in college.
“This is what all teachers work for,” Mulgrew added. “To see their students graduate and go on to be successful.”
New Shanker Scholarship Director Anthony Harmon, hosting his first ceremony since taking the position, added, “The Shanker Scholarship recipients represent some of the best and brightest students in our public schools.”
Mulgrew introduced the keynote speaker, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, calling her a “fierce advocate” for public school education.
Quinn told the recipients that “college and graduate school will test you in ways you don’t know, but in moments of adversity, think of this scholarship. It’s not just a check; it’s a belief and faith in your abilities and potential for great achievement.”
She told students that the scholarship was a symbol of the belief that the UFT and the entire city had in their limitless potential.
The scholarship winners were chosen based on financial need and a combination of grades, personal essays and teachers’ and guidance counselors’ recommendations.
The audience cheered for each winner as he or she was called up to the stage to celebrate their academic achievement, their $5,000 Shanker scholarship and the role of teachers, guidance counselors and their families in their academic journeys.
Belgrave, who is the first in her family to attend college, credited both her family and her teachers for supporting her dreams.
“I consider my teachers an extended part of my family,” she said. “I was shocked when I found out I was accepted and had won a scholarship.”
Her friend Bria Ramsey, heading off to the University of Albany with a UFT scholarship, said, “I consider my guidance counselor the most influential person; he made us all apply to CUNYs, SUNYs and out-of-state schools,” which she would not have done on her own, she said.
Shanker Scholarship recipient Yiquan Wang from Manhattan Comprehensive Night and Day HS, who is heading off to Boston College to study finance and economics, credited his college advisor, Beth Novick.
“Without my advisor I would not be where I am now and would not be the person I am now,” he said.