Meet the 2015 Union Plus Scholarship Winners!

Categories: Member Benefits

Meet the 2015 Union Plus Scholarship Winners! Of the more than 5,000 applications for the Union Plus Scholarship received from union members, their spouses and their dependent children in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands representing 36 unions, five are from AFGE!

  • Makayle Botts of Glasgow, Ky. Makayle, whose father, Jimmy Botts, is a member and president of AFGE Local 3984 in District 6, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Christopher Clarizio of Arlington Heights, Ill. Christopher, whose mother, Diane Sharrow, is a member of AFGE Local 704 in District 7, has been awarded a $2,000 scholarship.
  • Reanna Elswick of Jenkins, Ky. Reanna, whose father, Sammy Elswick, is a member of AFGE Local 3316 in District 4, has been awarded a $4,000 scholarship.
  • Leanna Peru of El Paso, Texas. Leanna, whose mother, Susana Aguilera, is a member of AFGE Local 2516 in District 10, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Leonaldo Saldana of Laredo, Texas. Leonaldo, who is a member of AFGE Local 2455 in District 10, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship. 

Meet the 2015 AFGE Honorees 

Makayle Botts

Makayle is a 2015 high school graduate who plans to major in physical therapy at the University of Kentucky. Named captain of her high school’s varsity cheerleading team her senior year, Makayle earned the leadership award as both a freshman and a junior and helped her team achieve multiple top-three finishes at nationals. She also coaches a local youth all-star cheerleading team. Makayle was selected as Rotary Student of the Month and is active in Future Business Leaders of America; her high school’s drama club; and the National Beta Club, for which she has served as both state and national president and through which she has given motivational speeches to younger students in nine states. Makayle witnesses her father’s union involvement as he annually lobbies representatives and senators on behalf of union workers. “He champions their cause to promote better pay, benefits and a secure job, and he brings attention to matters that affect public service,” she said.

Christopher Clarizio

Christopher is a 2015 high school graduate who plans to study mechanical engineering and aspires to a career in robotics technology. He is a National Honor Society member, a National Merit finalist and an AP Scholar. Christopher, who works as a lifeguard, soccer referee and baseball umpire, was active in Boy Scouts from the first grade through his 18th birthday, earning the Eagle Scout rank in 2011. He was a high school peer tutor and participated in Science Olympiad and Math Teams competitions. Christopher has saved most of his earnings from high school jobs to help defray college costs, and he also plans to work in college. He understands the value of union membership, saying it was his mother’s membership that protected her job when she was threatened with dismissal if she took maternity leave after his birth.

Reanna Elswick

Reanna is a 2015 high school graduate who earned an associate degree at the University of Pikeville in May through her school’s dual credit program. She plans to major in psychology at Morehead State University with the goal of becoming a therapist. Reanna, who has worked as a lifeguard since 2013, participated in varsity basketball, track and volleyball, serving as captain of all three teams. She placed sixth in pole vault at the Kentucky State Championships and earned her basketball team’s academic award six times. Reanna has volunteered as a Salvation Army bell ringer and an ambassador for the local Mountain Heritage Academy. Her father is a third-generation union member; her great-grandfathers all died as a result of black lung disease. She appreciates the union’s successful efforts to provide better conditions, pay and benefits.

Leanna Peru

Leanna is a 2015 high school graduate. Through the Early College High School program, she also earned an associate degree from El Paso Community College prior to high school graduation, and she now plans to pursue a master’s degree in speech-language pathology at the University of Texas at El Paso. She aspires to work on a military base and contribute to the betterment of service members’ lives, eventually opening her own rehabilitation center. Leanna was her high school’s Academic Decathlon team captain and Student of the Year, as well as a GPA Excellence award winner. She also was president of her school’s math and engineering club and a member of the National Honor Society. In 2014, she received a certificate of appreciation for her contribution as a panel member for the El Paso Community College Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration. Leanna volunteers with several local unions and said her “passion for reform and equality” has given her a strong and positive relationship with unions and the labor movement.

Leonaldo Saldana

Leonaldo is a 2012 graduate of Laredo Community College with an associate degree in criminal justice. He has worked as an agent for the U.S. Border Patrol since 2007. Leonaldo plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Texas A&M International University or the University of Texas at Austin, with aspirations of becoming a paramedic and lead intelligence border patrol agent. He would be the first member of his family to earn a bachelor’s degree. Leonaldo previously worked as a cryptologic technician (electronic warfare) for the U.S. Navy, earning a Navy Achievement Award in 2006. He was presented with an award for 10 years of honorable government service in 2012. A union member since 2007, he is a proud supporter of the union and the labor movement and said he has witnessed the union’s positive effects on the border patrol.

Union Plus Scholarship awards are granted to students attending a two-year college, four-year college, graduate school or a recognized technical or trade school. Since starting the program in 1991, Union Plus has awarded more than $3.7 million in educational funding to more than 2,500 union members, spouses and dependent children.

AFGE is committed to helping members and their families fund their college education. In addition to the scholarships, AFGE also offers the following benefits to help members and their families afford higher education:

  • Discounts of 15 to 60 percent on college and graduate school test preparation courses from The Princeton Review. Discounts are available for classroom, online and private tutoring for the SAT®, ACT®, GMAT®, LSAT®, GRE® and MCAT® as well as college affordability and admissions online courses. Visit the Member Benefits section at www.afge.org for more information.
  • Discounts on textbooks. Union families save 5 percent or more when renting or buying textbooks. New, used and digital textbooks are available. Free shipping is included on orders over $59. . Visit the Member Benefits section at www.afge.org for more information.
  • College counseling discounts of 15 percent from Collegewise, the admission division of The Princeton Review. College counselors help high school students find, apply to and attend the right colleges. Visit the Member Benefits section at www.afge.orgfor more information.
  • Union Plus Student Debt Reducer Grant* helps eligible Union Plus Credit Card, Mortgage and Insurance participants pay down their student loans. Visit the Member Benefits section at www.afge.orgfor more information.

*Certain restrictions, limitations, and qualifications apply to these grants. Additional information and eligibility criteria can be obtained at UnionPlus.org/Education. Grants are only available until all available funds have been awarded.


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