2020 Union Plus Scholarship Winners

Winners Honored for Achievement and Union Values

AFGE’sUnion Plus recently awarded $300,000 in scholarships to 215 students representing 43 unions, including six winners representing the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). This year’s group of scholarship recipients includes university, college, and trade or technical school students from 38 states. The AFGE winners are:

Eliza Albenze of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania. Albenze, whose father, Erik Albenze, is a member of AFGE Local 1916, has been awarded a $1,500 scholarship.

Enkh-Uchral Bolor of Torrance, California. Bolor, whose mother, Bolor Dhondrup, is a member of AFGE Local 1260, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.

Ryleigh Napier of Wooton, Kentucky. Napier, whose father, Brian Napier, is a member of AFGE Local 3431, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.

Ali Nedved of Jacksboro, Tennessee. Nedved, whose father, Gregory Nedved, is a member of AFGE Local 3431, has been awarded a $2,000 scholarship.

Randy Terry of Lithonia, Georgia. Terry, whose father, Randy Terry, is a member of AFGE Local 534, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.

Mary Kate Yatsonsky of Jefferson Township, Pennsylvania. Yatsonsky, whose father, David Yatsonsky, is a member of AFGE Local 1699, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.

 “AFGE is proud to report an increase in the scholarship award amount this year and help more union families than ever before,” AFGE President Everett Kelley said. “At a time when many families have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are especially glad to support this year’s group of six hardworking AFGE family members as they further their educations and pave the path for future success.”

Meet the 2020 AFGE Honorees

Eliza Albenze

The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), State College, Pennsylvania

Bethel Park [Pennsylvania] High School (BPHS) (2019)

Eliza recently completed her first year as a biomedical engineering major at Penn State, where she is a member of the Schreyer Honors College. She hopes to attend medical school and aspires to be a surgeon. While in high school, Eliza developed chronic knee pain that required physical therapy, medication, and ultimately two surgeries. “I realize how lucky my family is to have the medical coverage to pay for my treatments without large medical bills for my parents 

to pay,” Eliza said. “These agreements and policies are only possible through the work of the union. Without AFGE fighting for fair medical coverage, I might still be suffering with knee pain and not able to enjoy college as I am today.”

Eliza’s Girl Scouts of America leader Anastasia Fertal said, “Eliza has always accepted challenges with a positive attitude, levelheadedness, and grace. She continues to demonstrate hard work and determination in all her endeavors.”

Activities and honors: BPHS Teen Leadership Corps; BPHS varsity softball; BPHS Harvard Book Award; Girl Scouts of America Bronze, Silver, Gold awards

Volunteerism: Vacation Bible School

Ryleigh Napier

Leslie County [Kentucky] High School (LCHS) (2020)

Ryleigh will attend Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) this fall as an education major. Her career goal is to become a middle school teacher and return to her hometown to make a difference in the lives of at-risk children there. Ryleigh, who graduated at the top of her LCHS class, completed AP and dual-credit college courses in preparation for college. She is thankful for the teachers who have inspired her to overcome barriers and hopes to do the same for future generations. “I want to teach kids that they are able to succeed no matter where they are from or whatever socioeconomic backgrounds they have,” Ryleigh said. “For me, there is no greater profession than teaching; it is the building block of our great nation.”

LCHS guidance counselor Cynthia Collett said, “Ryleigh has shown a commitment to our school and community in her work both in and out of the classroom. She is kind and positive, and she embodies true leadership.”

Activities, honors, and employment: National Honor Society; president, 4-H Teen Council; Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA); University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Office Home Makers; varsity volleyball; club volleyball; Rogers Scholar; EKU Chairman Scholarship; Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship; youth volleyball coach

Volunteerism: Relay for Life; children’s coat drive; community backpack program; AWANA leader

Ali Nedved

Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC), Lexington, Kentucky

Corbin [Kentucky] High School (CHS) (2018)

Ali is a nursing student at BCTC, where she is part of the highly selective nine-member Presidential Student Ambassador program. She plans to pursue bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing after completing the BCTC nursing program in May 2021. Ali wants to become a nurse practitioner specializing in pediatrics and oncology, and hopes to eventually open a cancer clinic. She is a student nurse technician at Select Specialty Hospital and was previously a patient service specialist with Kentucky Orthopedic Rehab Team.

Ali was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 13. She is thankful that her father’s AFGE membership allowed him leave to care for her throughout her treatment. “I could not begin to imagine having gone through treatment without my dad,” Ali said. “AFGE gave me my dad when I needed him most and gave me light through the darkest time in my life. I will always be thankful for that.”

Activitieand honors: National Children’s Cancer Society Ambassador; Kentucky Association of Student Nurses; Kentucky YMCA Youth Association Y-Corps; BCTC nursing class president; BCTC Welcome Cente

Volunteerism: University of Kentucky DanceBlue (Ronald McDonald House fundraiser); National Children’s Cancer Society ambassador; pediatric cancer patient fundraiser.

Randy Terry II

Stephenson High School (SHS), Stone Mountain, Georgia (2020)

Randy will begin college this fall as a computer science major. In December, he was nominated to the U.S. service academies by U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson. Randy hopes to attend the U.S. Naval Academy or the U.S. Air Force Academy and would like to be a pilot. He has served as battalion commanding officer in the SHS Navy JROTC unit and was selected as a cadre at the 2019 Area 12 Navy JROTC Leadership Academy. In addition to his father’s AFGE membership, his mother, Anetrice Terry, is a member of the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

Retired Lt. Earl E. Davidson, senior naval science instructor of the SHS Navy JROTC Unit, gave Randy his highest recommendation. “Cadet Terry set himself apart from his peers with maturity, program pride, excellence in all classes, and a strong display of leadership,” Davidson said. “He is goal-oriented, mature, focused, and consistently called upon to direct, train, and motivate junior cadets.”

Activities, honors, and employment: SHS varsity swim; editor-in-chief, SHS yearbook; President’s Volunteer Service Award, Gold; pre-electrician apprentice, Minor’s Electric Company

Volunteerism: Atlanta Women’s and Children’s Homeless Shelter; church children’s activities

Mary Kate Yatsonsky

Lackawanna College, Scranton, Pennsylvania: Associate of Arts, professional studies (2020)

North Pocono High School (NPHS), Moscow, Pennsylvania (2020)

Mary Kate was part of Lackawanna’s Level Up dual enrollment program while at NPHS, where she was a high honors student. She will attend the University of Scranton as a finance/accounting major and hopes to achieve CPA certification before pursuing an MBA. Her career goal is to start a union-affiliated business. Mary Kate, who has many family members who served in the military, placed third regionally in a VFW Voice of Democracy essay contest.

Mary Kate is a proud member of a family with union ties that date back nearly a century. She is grateful for the change in her father’s working conditions since he became an AFGE member over a decade ago. “His prior job had him working more than 70 hours per week without any paid overtime as a salaried employee,” Mary Kate said. “Now, as a federal employee, his hours are much closer to 40 per week with union-driven annual raises. This has been great for both our family and his health.”

Activities and honors: UScranton Business High School Scholars Program; National Honor Society; NPHS Interact Club; NPHS varsity golf; UScranton Dean’s Scholarship; Xavier Scholarship; Scranton Times-Tribune Northeast Pennsylvania All-Region Girls’ Golf Team

Volunteerism: St. Francis of Assisi Kitchen; community outreach events

The Union Plus Scholarship Program

The Union Plus Scholarship Program, now in its 28th year, awards scholarships based on outstanding academic achievement, personal character, financial need, and commitment to the values of organized labor. The program is offered through the Union Plus Education Foundation.


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