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Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Program Awards Grants To 25 Students, Navigating Around Pandemic Again

Ed Sills
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The 2022 Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Program is under way after another pandemic year that saw 25 students from affiliated union families receive grants to help pay for their college educations.

The application for this year’s program is posted at Deadline for high school seniors to apply for the program will be Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. Scholarship recipients from the three previous years will be invited to apply for Continuing Scholarships.

Eighteen high school seniors received grants of $1,500, as did seven previous recipients who got $1,500 grants to continue their educations.

Despite limitations on in-person meetings, Scholarship Committees at Central Labor Councils across Texas fulfilled their traditional role in judging applications, using Zoom or phone calls to interview high school seniors and administer the test on labor union basics.
Even the fundraising component of the program changed. Generous donors continued to fund the Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Fund, a 501(c)(3) organization that accepts donations that are tax-deductible to the full extent of federal law. This year marks the return of the Texas AFL-CIO/Walter Umphrey Golf Tournament, a key fundraiser for the fund that was canceled last year out of safety concerns; improvising, the Texas AFL-CIO oversaw a successful online concert last year that raised substantial funds for the program.
Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy thanked all who participated for maintaining the program in tough circumstances.
“The long tradition of Texas AFL-CIO support for union families looking to build a better future through higher education stood strong again despite the absence of in-person contact,” Levy said. “As we move back toward a semblance of ‘normal,’ we again thank Central Labor Councils for continuing to invest in our movement’s future while making the scholarship program a unique model of worker solidarity. We thank donors who have continued to support the scholarship program even as our minds remained on staying safe and adjusting to crazy times.”
Levy paid special tribute to Umphrey, who died earlier this year.
“Walter Umphrey’s support for Texas AFL-CIO programs, including the Scholarship Program, made a huge difference in the Texas labor movement,” Levy said, “and we honor the continuing participation of the Provost Umphrey Law Firm in supporting scholarships for union students.”
Criteria for high school students applying for the grants include academic record as evidenced in high school transcripts, extracurricular activities, financial need, a test on introductory concepts in organized labor, and an interview with the scholarship committee.

The Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Committee participants this year, representing a cross-section of the union community, included Jeff Darby (AFGE), Chair; Clara Caldwell (APRI); Angi DeFelippo (Tarrant CLC); Phyllis Goines (IBEW); Renda Marsh (TWU); Ray McMurrey (AFT); Lee Medley (USW); Karina Quintana (AFGE); Richard Salazar (AFSCME); and Daniel Stender (IBEW).
Continuing Scholarship applications are judged by the Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Committee based on the applications alone, placing a heavier emphasis on activities involving public service and activism.

Donations to the Scholarship Fund 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
Donors of at least one full scholarship in the 2021 cycle include: American Income Life, Kevin Clift, Joe & Dorothy Gunn (legacy), Becky Moeller, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 68, and Provost Umphrey Law Firm.
Those with contributions of full scholarships in their memory include Linda Bridges and John Patrick.
All donors, memorials and honorees are listed on the Texas AFL-CIO website at

Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Recipients – 2021

(Parentheses note Central Labor Councils for high school graduates and, in several instances, donors of full scholarships)

Kaitlyn Battle of Waller. Carrying a 4.2 average at Magnolia West High School, Battle attends Baylor University. She participated in Fillies Dance Team, Dream Girls, Debutante Fallbrook, Epic Mentor and LSC Leader High. Battle is the daughter of Fabion Gobert and Tina Battle Gobert. Sister Gobert is a member of Houston Federation of Teachers Local 2415. (Harris County Labor Assembly; Texas AFL-CIO)

Sidney Deosio of San Antonio. Carrying a 95 average at Business Careers High School, Deosio attends Northwest Vista College. She participated in softball, Crossfit training and running. Deosio is the daughter of Daniel and Lisa Deosio. Brother Deosio is a member of Communications Workers of America Local 6143. (San Antonio CLC)

Liberty Dolberry of Grand Prairie. Ranked in the top quarter of her class at South Grand Prairie High School, Dolberry attends the University of Oklahoma. She participated in track and field. Dolberry is the daughter of Oliver and Kimberly Edmonson. Brother Edmonson is a member of the United Auto Workers Local 119. (Dallas CLC)

Brodie Driver of Fort Worth. Ranked in the top third of his class at Boswell High School, Driver will attend Tarrant Community College. He worked full-time to help support his family while taking some classes at TCC. Driver is the son of Chris Driver and Laurie Sayre. Brother Driver is a member of United Auto Workers Local 218. (Tarrant CLC; Kevin Clift)

Maria Ferraro of Desoto. Recipient of a Continuing Scholarship, Ferraro attends Southern Methodist University. She worked as a babysitter and took part in a variety of actions, including Black Lives Matter protests and actions in support of the LGBTQ+ community. Ferraro is the daughter of Joe and Polly Ferraro. Brother Ferraro is a member of the Dallas-Fort Worth Professional Musicians Association Local 72-147. (Texas AFL-CIO)

Nayzeth E. Gamez of El Paso. Ranked in the top quarter of her class at Austin High School, Gamez attends Grand Canyon University. She participated in String Ensemble (Mariachi) and as a volunteer in a church food pantry. Gamez is the daughter of Gustavo and Blanca Gamez. (Austin CLC judged this application)

Jayden Hamilton of Roanoke. Ranked 11th in a class of 552, Hamilton attends the University of Arkansas. He participated in tennis and the Business and Management Entrepreneurship Academy. Hamilton is the son of Greg and Rochelle Hamilton. Brother Hamilton is a member of United Auto Workers Local 218. (Tarrant CLC; American Income Life)

Thairan Khem of Humble. Ranked in the top third of his class at Summercreek High School, Khem attends Lone Star College-Kingwood. Khem is the son of Tha and Nickey Khem. Brother Khem is a member of Plumbers Local 68. (Harris County Labor Assembly)

Slater James Macon of Nederland. Ranked in the top half of his class in Nederland High School, Macon attends Lamar University. He participated in Marching Band, All-State Symphonic Band, and Honors Band. Macon is the son of Greg and Sharon Macon. Brother Macon is a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 479. (Sabine Area CLC; Joe & Dorothy Gunn legacy)

Alexa Marazzi of Euless. Ranked in the top quarter of her class at Trinity High School, Marazzi attends Southwestern University. She participated in varsity swimming and community autism concerts. Marazzi is the daughter of Eric Marazzi and Gayla Power. Sister Power is a member of Transport Workers Union Local 556. (Dallas CLC)

Talisa Mohammed of McAllen. Recipient of a Continuing Scholarship, Mohammed attends Texas A&M University. She has participated in Adopt-a-Grandparent, AFT National School Safety Car Caravan and a Christmas goodie bag distribution to residents of a healthcare facility. Mohammed is the daughter of Clinton and Indeera Mohammed. Sister Mohammed is a member of the McAllen Federation of Teachers Local 6329. (Becky Moeller in memory of Linda Bridges)

Ayanna N. Monderoy of Spring. Ranked in the top 15 percent of her class at Klein Oak High School, Monderoy attends Stephen F. Austin University. She participated in National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Panthers Seeking Christ Club and Future Farmers of America. Monderoy is the daughter of Michael Morian and Sarah Monderoy Garcia. Sister Garcia is a member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 811. (Harris County Labor Assembly)

Kevin Jeffrey Nickl of League City. Ranked in the top fifth of his class at Clear Creek High School, Nickl attends the University of St. Thomas. He participated in marching band, HOSA, and Wind Symphony, and scored a perfect 100 on the Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship test. Nickl is the son of Jeff and Lisa Nickl. Sister Nickl is a member of the American Federation of Musicians Local 65-699. (Galveston Labor Assembly; Provost Umphrey Law Firm)

Alyssa Ortiz of Amarillo. Ranked in the top half of her class at Amarillo High School, Ortiz attends Amarillo College. She participated in Latin Club and in a PRO internship. Ortiz is the daughter of Ivan and Anna Ortiz. Brother Ortiz is a member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 1255. (Amarillo CLC; Texas AFL-CIO)

Kendall Pickney of Richmond. Ranked in the top one-fifth of her class at William B. Travis High School, Pickney attends Temple University. She participated in National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society and Rho Kappa (Social Studies Honor Society). Pickney is the daughter of Johnny Pickney and Malaika Easton. Sister Easton is a member of the Fort Bend Employees Federation (American Federation of Teachers) Local 6198. (Tideland Labor Assembly)

Dario Quinones of Lumberton. Recipient of a Continuing Scholarship, Quinones attends the University of Houston. He painted rooms at a local Catholic Church, freeing up the groundskeeper to attend to more pressing maintenance matters. Quinones is the son of Jesus and Barbara Quinones. Sister Quinones is a member of United Steelworkers Local 13-423. (Provost Umphrey Law Firm)

Eleanor Ann Schoenbrun of El Paso. Ranked second in her class at Franklin High School, Schoenbrun attends Yale University. She was Student Body President and featured Baton Twirler, and participated in HOSA, National Honor Society, Points of Light and a variety of other activities. Schoenbrun is the daughter of Lisa Ann Schoenbrun. Sister Schoenbrun is a member of the El Paso American Federation of Teachers Local 3483. (El Paso CLC; Texas AFL-CIO)

Laura Solis of Hurst. Recipient of a Continuing Scholarship, Solis attends Midwestern State University. She has delivered meals to families suffering from COVID-19 and volunteered at a vaccine center. Solis is the daughter of John and Cyndi Solis. Brother Solis is a member of Transport Workers Union Local 591 – Southwest Region. (Kevin Clift)

Katrina Soto of Helotes. Carrying an 89 average at Sandra Day O’Connor High School, Soto attends St. Philip’s College. She has worked to help her family. Soto is the daughter of Amalio and Corina Soto. Brother Soto is a member of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 694 and Sister Soto is a member of the American Federation of Teachers Northside. (San Antonio CLC)

Blake Taggert of China Spring. Recipient of a Continuing Scholarship, Taggert attends Northwestern State University. Taggert participated in a mask-making project to combat COVID-19 and helped a friend complete an Eagle Scout project. Taggert is the son of Ronald and Analisa Taggert. Brother Taggert is a member of the National Association of Letter Carriers Local 404. (Joe & Dorothy Gunn legacy)

Sylvia Lizette Tanguma of Edinburg. Ranked in the top 3 percent of her class at McAllen High School, Tanguma attends the University of Texas-Austin. She captained the soccer team and participated in concert band, marching band as drum major, National Honor Society and Student Ambassadors. Tanguma is the daughter of Victor and Sylvia Tanguma. Sister Tanguma is a member of the McAllen American Federation of Teachers, Local 6329. (Rio Grande Valley; Texas AFL-CIO)

Kenneth Thompson of Houston. Recipient of a Continuing Scholarship, Thompson attends the University of Houston. He volunteered for Feed the Future Forward and was active on social media regarding the program to feed the hungry. Thompson is the son of Kenneth and Susan Thompson. Brother Thompson is a member of the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees and Sister Thompson is a member of the Houston Federation of Teachers. (American Income Life)

Ariel Waller of Tom Bean. Ranked 14th in her class at Tom Bean High School, Waller attends Mount Marty University. She participated in National Honor Society, cross country, powerlifting and track & field. Waller is the daughter of Josh and Shelley Waller. Brother Waller is a member of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers Local 2082. (Tarrant CLC)

Shelbie Williams of Port Neches. Recipient of a Continuing Scholarship, Williams attends Lamar University. She helped tear down a dilapidated building so the Womens H.O.P.E. clinic could rebuild a shelter for women and children and participated in other community service projects. Williams is the daughter of Robert Jay and Melinda Williams. Brother Williams is a member of United Steelworkers Local 13-228. (Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 68 in Memory of John Patrick)

Alejandro Zuniga of Olton. A graduate of Olton High School, Zuniga attends Navarro College. He participated in band, Future Farmers of America, National Honor Society and Texas Tech University Court Jesters. Zuniga is the son of Juan and Anna Zuniga. Sister Zuniga is a member of the Texas State Employees Union/CWA Local 6186. (Lubbock CLC)

Donors to Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Fund

(Sept. 1, 2020-Aug. 31, 2021)

Leonard & Dalila Aguilar
American Income Life
Alice Badsgard
Rebecca Badsgard
Judy Bryant
Carol & Keith Bryce
Clara Caldwell
Kevin Clift
Kyle Clift
Bill & Mary Fears
Patrick M. Flynn, P.C.
Andy & Robbie Frye
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 66
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 220
Travis & Linda Jackson
Kalyn Free, P.C.
Rick Levy
Vilma Luna
Laila Mandour
Becky Moeller
Eric H. Nelson Law Office
Paul Parsons, P.C.
John Patrick
Plumbers Local 68
Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 286
Provost Umphrey Law Firm
Richard Rock
Douglas Selwyn
Shell Oil Foundation Matching Gifts
Ed Sills
Calvin & Charlene Speight
Dennis & Emily Speight
Texas Building & Construction Trades Council
Texarkana Central Trades & Labor Council
Texas Alliance for Retired Americans
Texas State Association of Letter Carriers
Pat Tucker
Sue Vaughn
Kristie Veit
Rosa Walker
Linda K. White

Memorials & Honorees


Cheryl Anderson
John Bland
Jim Boynton
Mickey Breaux
Linda Bridges
Sharon Cole
Lorraine Cunningham
Nelson Edgerly
Henry Goines
Maria Jimenez
N.R. “Curley” Johnston
Bobbye Jo Martinez
Ramon Ovalle
John Patrick
Bobby Phillips
Jacob Richardson
Shirley Rubinett
Emmett Sheppard
Kenny Speight
Glynne Stanley
Ernie Sweat
Richard Trumka


Ana Pomar
Rose Levy’s wedding