By CARL GREEN
Pontoon Beach, IL – The reach of the Granite City Steelworker retirees extends far and wide because of their scholarship program, which this year will help five young Steelworker relatives prepare for their careers.
The five students were presented their honors Aug. 12 at the Granite City SOAR Chapter 7-34-2 Scholarship Awards Luncheon at Neighborhood Social Club here.
The scholarships are named for Jane Becker, a longtime United Steelworkers activist who was the wife and best friend for 57 years to USW International President George Becker. She ran the union’s phone banking and political outreach efforts.
“She was more than George’s wife,” said the current President, Leo Gerard. “She was a leader in her own right, a great activist for working and retired men and women who was always willing to volunteer and always willing to advance the cause of workers.”
That spirit was evident as the retirees of the SOAR chapter raised $10,000 to split evenly among the five scholarships. Each recipient gets $1,000 now and the other $1,000 after successfully completing a semester in college.
Scholarship applicants were asked to write essays on “The Economic Impact of the Rising Costs for Higher Education.”
The five are:
- Jude Nejmanowski, a graduate of Crossroad College Preparatory School in St. Louis who will major in classical trumpet performance at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
“I just want to give a big thanks to everybody who put this on, and for demonstrating to all of us kids how much education means to you and how supportive a community can be,” he told the retirees.
“It really takes a village to raise a kid. You’re making my further education possible and my future possible, and I can’t thank you enough.”
- Elsie Loftus, graduate of Jerseyville (IL) Community High School, who will study music education with a concentration on voice at College of St. Rose in Albany, N.Y. She is also preparing for the Medical College Acceptance Test.
“I want to thank you all for all the support you’ve given to me and my family in the past and all that you’ve done for this community,” she said.
- Karalyn Mitchell, graduate of Collinsville High School who works at Gliks and will study business and marketing at Southwestern Illinois College
“I want to thank everybody for making this possible for me,” she said. “You’re making my future a lot easier and I really appreciate it.”
- Morgan Marinelli, graduate of Atascocita High School near Houston, Texas, who will study chemical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.
“Thank you for making me feel so welcome in this town,” she said. “I didn’t grow up here, but I appreciate everything you do. This scholarship contest was a very impressive feat to organize, and I thank you all for the hard work you’ve put into it.”
- Tyler Hahne, graduate of Granite City High School, who participated in the Running Start program that allowed him to attend classes at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville SIUE. He now starts at SIUE full-time but with junior status.
“Thank you to everyone here at SOAR,” he said. “You really helped me complete my college goals. With help from SOAR and a few other grants, I won’t have to pay for my first year at SIUE. So thank you.”