Scholarship Program

Observing Social Distancing, Texas AFL-CIO Awards 26 Scholarships 

Despite a unique challenge, the Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Program “Zoomed” to a delayed completion and awarded 26 scholarships to students from affiliated union families in Texas.

Entering freshmen scooped up 21 of the $1,500 scholarships that go to high school seniors. Five more one-time $1,500 grants went to Continuing Scholars, determined from a separate pool of applicants who received the high school version some time in the last three years.

Typically, Central Labor Councils across the state recommend semi-finalists for the awards after a process that includes in-person interviews and a written test on labor basics. This year, CLCs first needed to find their bearings at the onset of the pandemic. The CLC Scholarship Committees made the adjustments and set up online or phone interviews and testing.

Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy thanked all who participated in the process for getting applicants to the finish line amid the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Scholarship Program helps some extraordinary students get a financial leg up on the high cost of college education, and this year in particular was the hardest to complete,” Levy said. “It would not have happened without the CLCs that went above and beyond their usual duties, the Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Committee, the generous donors to the Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Fund, and our staff. I also want to thank applicants for their patience.”

After a delay of more than 45 days to allow CLCs more time to finish their work, all scholarship payments were mailed directly to the colleges that recipients are attending ahead of due dates for tuition and fees.

The program evaluates high school seniors based on academic accomplishments, extracurricular activities, interviews, financial need, and performance on the labor test. Applicants for Continuing Scholarships go through a shorter process that places extra emphasis on public service and activism. The Continuing Scholarships are judged by the Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Committee.

This year’s Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Committee meeting included Jeff Darby (AFGE), Chair; Richard Salazar (AFSCME); Ray McMurrey (Texas AFT);  Bobbie Martinez (CWA); and B.R. Williams (ILA). The panel met in June.

The program is funded by the Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Program, a 501(c)(3) organization that is supported by generous donations from union members, retirees and allies. Donations to the fund are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law and may honor or memorialize a loved one. To contribute, send a check payable to “Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Fund” to Texas AFL-CIO, P.O. Box 12727, Capitol Station, Austin, TX 78711 or contact Emily Speight at [email protected].

Donors of at least one full scholarship include: AT&T, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Joe D. & Dorothy Gunn (legacy), International Longshoremen’s Association Local 28, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 450, Plumbers Local 68 (including a scholarship honoring John Patrick), Provost Umphrey Law Firm, South Atlantic & Gulf Coast International Longshoremen’s Association, Texas AFT, United Auto Workers Region 5 SW States CAP Council , and Union Labor Life Insurance Co. (ULLICO).

A full list of scholarship recipients is included on this web page, along with a list of donors and honorees.

2020 Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Recipients

(CLCs for High School Recipients and Donors/Memorials in Parentheses)

Lorna Abundis of San Antonio. A graduate of the Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Abundis plans to attend Loyola University in Chicago. She participated in National Honor Society, Art Honor Society, Young Poet’s Society, National Spanish Honor Society and Our Tomorrow Symposium, and worked as an intern in a law firm. Abundis is the daughter of Arturo and Griselda Abundis. Sister Abundis is a member of the San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel. (San Antonio CLC; Texas AFT)

Alexandria Alcantar of Deer Park. Ranked in the top 15 percent of her class at Deer Park High School, Alcantar plans to attend Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. She participated in Varsity Softball. Alcantar is the daughter of Douglas and Bertha Alcantar. Brother Alcantar is a member of International Longshoremen’s Association Local 28 (Houston Labor Assembly; South Atlantic & Gulf Coast ILA).

Tori Bertrand of Bridge City. Recipient of a Continuing Scholarship, Bertrand attends Lamar University. She volunteered at her mother’s union, helping plan and host an annual picnic, and has advocated on social media against cyberbullying, including posting positive messages to lift people up. Bertrand is the daughter of Gina Bertrand. Sister Bertrand is a member of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 479. ( Provost Umphrey)

Samantha Cera of El Paso. Ranked in the top 20 percent of her class at Burges High School, Cera plans to attend the University of Texas at El Paso. She participated in Cheerleading, Cross Country, and Track and Field. Cera is the daughter of Alexandra Aragon. Sister Aragon is a member of the Socorro American Federation of Teachers. (El Paso CLC; Texas AFL-CIO)

Cindy Lizbeth Cervantes of Haltom City. Ranked in the top 10 percent of her class at Haltom High School, Cervantes plans to attend the University of North Texas. She participated in Link Crew, National Honor Society, Science Club and Texas Alliance for Minorities and Engineering. Cervantes is the daughter of Speed and Maria Cervantes. Brother Cervantes is a member of Transport Workers Union Local 591. (Tarrant CLC; Texas AFL-CIO)

David Clements of Mansfield. Ranked in the top third of his class at Mansfield High School, Clements plans to attend Texas Tech University. He participated in Marching Band, Concert Band and Boy Scouts. Clements is the son of William K. and Jennifer Clements. Brother Clements is a member of Transport Workers Union Local 591. (Tarrant CLC; Joe D. & Dorothy Gunn Legacy)

Makaylee Dyess of Wills Point. Ranked in the top 20 percent of her class at Wills Point High School, Dyess plans to attend Dallas Baptist University. She participated in National Honor Society, Student Council, Varsity Cheerleading and Competitive Cheer. Dyess is the daughter of Dan and Mechelle Hagler. Brother Hagler is a member of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 100. (Dallas AFL-CIO; Texas AFL-CIO)

Maria Ferraro of Desoto. Recipient of a Continuing Scholarship, Ferraro attends Southern Methodist University. She co-hosted an event in which dance majors choreographed and tutored students with disabilities ahead of a church performance. Ferraro is the daughter of Joe and Polly Ferraro. Brother Ferraro is a member of American Federation of Musicians Local 72-147. (Texas AFL-CIO)

Abigail Klawitter of Richmond. A graduate of William B. Travis High School, Klawitter plans to attend West Texas A&M University. She participated in Future Farmers of America, National Honor Society and Career Tech Education Ambassador, and worked at HEB. Klawitter is the daughter of Philip and Jennifer Klawitter. Sister Klawitter is a member of the Fort Bend American Federation of Teachers Local 6198. (Tideland CLC; Provost Umphrey)

Thomas Krausz II of Pflugerville. A graduate of Weiss High School, Krausz plans to attend Austin Community College. He participated in Art and in several labor union events. Krausz is the son of David and Maria Thomas. Sister Thomas is a member of Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 277. (Austin CLC; Texas AFL-CIO)

Victoria Lopez of Robinson. Recipient of a Continuing Scholarship, Lopez attends McLennan Community College/Tarleton State University. She has engaged in volunteer work to assist homeless persons, helped repair a home for students in need, tutored and organized events. Lopez is the daughter of Steve and Karen Lopez. Brother Lopez is a member of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 72. (Texas AFL-CIO)

Renee Megwa of Fort Worth. Recipient of a Continuing Scholarship, Megwa attends Baylor University. She volunteers at the Salvation Army, working with homeless persons, and co-founded Healthcare Is Hers, which counsels entering college students on the path to health careers, with an emphasis on women, minorities and people from “lower economic backgrounds.” Megwa is the daughter of Dennis and Bernadine Megwa. Brother Megwa is a member of Transport Workers Union Local 513. (Texas AFL-CIO)

Hethyr Moore of Edinburg. Ranked in the top 5 percent of her class at Nikki Rowe High School, Moore plans to attend Texas A&M University. She participated in Soccer, Future Farmers of America, and National Honor Society. Moore is the daughter of Bobby and Lori Moore. Sister Moore is a member of the McAllen American Federation of Teachers. (Rio Grande Valley; Texas AFL-CIO)

Ashley Pretty of Texas City. Ranked in the top 10 percent of her class at Dickinson High School, Pretty plans to attend the University of Houston. She participated in Debate Club and LGBT Club. Pretty is the daughter of Ross and Monique Pretty. Brother Pretty is a member of United Steelworkers Local13-1. (Galveston CLC; Plumbers Local 68)

Diego Julian Puente of San Antonio. Ranked in the top 20 percent of his class at Construction Careers Academy/Earl Warren High School, Puente plans to attend Texas A&M University. He participated in National Honor Society and volunteered at the Food Bank. Puente is the son of Reynaldo Puente and Cynthia Tello-Puente. Brother Puente is a member of Communications Workers of America Local 6143. (San Antonio; AT&T)

Dario Quinones of Lumberton. Recipient of a Continuing Scholarship, Quinones attends the University of Houston. He organized a silent auction to raise funds for youth activities at his church and is working toward training as a pharmacist with an eye on informing communities about the facts on opioids. Quinones is the son of Jesus and Barbara Quinones. Sister Quinones is a member of United Steelworkers Local 13-423. (IUOE Local 450)

Elena Ramirez of Nitro, West Virginia. Ranked 9th in her class at Nitro High School/KCS Collaborative School, Ramirez plans to attend Marshall University. She participated in National Honor Society and Marching Band. Ramirez is the daughter of Waldir Ramirez and Gina Jarrell. Brother Ramirez is a member of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 520. (Austin CLC; Union Labor Life Ins. Co.)

Lauren Ramos of Fort Worth. Ranked in the top 20 percent of her class at North Crowley High School, Ramos plans to attend Texas Tech University. She participated in Student Council, Varsity Softball and Crowley Collegiate Academy. Ramos is the daughter of Juan and Angelica Ramos. Brother Ramos is a member of United Auto Workers Local 276 and Sister Ramos is a member of Communications Workers of America Local 6215. (Dallas CLC; Texas AFL-CIO)

Magaly Rosales of Houston. Ranked 3rd in her class at Scarborough High School, Rosales plans to attend the University of St. Thomas. She participated in Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps and National Honor Society. Rosales is the daughter of Jesus and Laura Rosales. Brother Rosales is a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 716. (Houston Labor Assembly; Plumbers Local 68 in Honor of John Patrick)

Laura Solis of Hurst. Ranked in the top 15 percent of her class at Lawrence D. Bell High School, Solis plans to attend Midwestern State University. She participated in Future Medical Professionals, C.A.S. (volunteer club), and did clinical rotations in her junior year. Solis is the daughter of John and Cyndi Solis. Brother Solis is a member of Transport Workers Union Local 591. (Tarrant CLC; UAW Region 5 CAP Council)

Blake Taggert of China Spring. Ranked in the top 15 percent of his class at China Spring High School, Taggert plans to attend Northwestern State University of Louisiana. He participated in Band, Boy Scouts, STEM Club, Eco Club, National Honor Society and PALS. Taggert is the son of Ronald and Analisa Taggert. Brother Taggert is a member of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 404. (Central Texas CLC; IUOE Local 450)

Brianna Terrazas of Diboll. Ranked in the top third of her class at Diboll High School, Terrazas plans to attend Angelina College. She participated in Future Farmers of America. Terrazas is the daughter of Juan R. Terrazas. Brother Terrazas is a member of United Steelworkers Local 13-1401. (Deep East Texas; Texas AFL-CIO)

Madeleine Villanueva of Corpus Christi. A graduate of St. John Paul II High School, Villanueva plans to attend Del Mar College. She participated in Cheer, Drill Team and Community Service. Villanueva is the daughter of Ricardo and Amy Villanueva. Her legal guardian, Consuelo Torrez, is a member of Communications Workers of America Local 6137. (Coastal Bend CLC;  AT&T)

Kyra Welch of Houston. A graduate of University Prep High School in Houston, Welch plans to attend Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. She participated in Cheer, Student Council, mentoring and National Honor Society. Welch is the daughter of Kimberly Welch. Sister Welch is a member of Northeast Houston American Federation of Teachers Local 6568 (Houston Labor Assembly;  Provost Umphrey).

Cheyayne Elizabeth Wilcox of Amarillo. Ranked 12th in her class at River Road High School, Wilcox plans to attend Clarendon College. She participated in Band, National Honor Society and University Interscholastic League competitions. Wilcox is the daughter of Dink and Elizabeth Wilcox. Sister Wilcox is a member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 1255. (Amarillo CLC; Texas AFL-CIO)

Shelbie Williams of Port Neches. Ranked in the top 10 percent of her class at Port Neches-Groves High School, Williams plans to attend Lamar University. She participated in Drill Team, Dance and Church activities. Williams is the daughter of Robert and Melinda Williams. Brother Williams is a member of United Steelworkers Local 13-228. (Sabine Area CLC; IUOE Local 450)

Donors to Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Fund

(July 1, 2019-Aug. 31, 2020)

Jackie Anderson

AFT Connecticut

AT&T

Betty Baugh

Judy Bryant

Blue Cross Blue Shield

Patrick M. Flynn PC

Joe D. & Dorothy Gunn (legacy)

ILA Local 28

South Atlantic & Gulf Coast ILA

Ironworkers #84

IUOE Local 450

Rick Levy

Lori & Thomas Lollar

Becky Moeller

Eric H. Nelson

John & Linda Patrick

Jana Pellusch

EJ Phillips

Plumbers Local 68

Provost Umphrey Law Firm

Starla & Samuel Reichek

Doug Richardson

Joseph Shantz

Richard Shaw

Sheet Metal Workers Local 54

Ed Sills

Emily & Dennis Speight

Ellen Stupak-Shaw

Texas Alliance for Retired Americans

Texas AFL-CIO

Texas AFT

Texas Building & Construction Trades Council

Texas State Teachers Association

United Auto Workers Local 218

UAW Region 5 SW States CAP Council

Union Labor Life Insurance Co. (ULLICO)

Sue Vaughn

Rosa Walker

Linda White

Memorials and Honorees

(July 1, 2019-Aug. 31, 2020)

Delbert Adams

Tommie Carreon Aguilar

Cheryl Anderson

David Arterburn

Regina Barber

Liz Bartlett

John Berendzen

John Bland

Joe Bontke

Louis Boulet

Lloyd Criss

Phil Durst

Honoring Debi Ellison

Jody Erickson

Elizabeth Pompa Garza

Jack Golden

Wanda Harris

Marceil Hubbard

George J. Kourpias

Kay Lee

Honoring Erasmo & Marylou Mendieta’s 50th wedding anniversary

Sam Munn

Phillip Parker

Honoring John Patrick

Corinne Sabo

Shawn Sargent

Dorothy Sheppard

Emmett Sheppard

Marvin Snowden

Kenneth Stavinoha

Lynn Tate

Walter Timberlake

Ernest Wyrick