2019 Union Plus Scholarship Winners

Union Plus recently awarded $170,000 in scholarships to 108 students representing 34 unions, including three 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 31 states plus the District of Columbia. The AFGE winners are:

  • N’Jhari Jackson of Tampa, Florida. Jackson, whose mother, LaShina Lewis, is a member of AFGE Local 547 in District 5, has been awarded a $3,000 scholarship.
  • Marcus Sledge of Chesterfield, Virginia. Sledge, whose mother, Cathy Williams-Sledge, is a member of AFGE Local 2145 in District 4, has been awarded a $3,000 scholarship.
  • Christopher Washington of Saint Petersburg, Florida. Washington, whose mother, Brenda Melvin-Funderburk, is a member of AFGE Local 548 in District 5, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.

AFGE and “Union Plus is pleased to help these incredibly talented union family members offset the high cost of college education,” AFGE National President J. David Cox said. “Education is a vital building block for success, and we’re happy that the Union Plus Scholarship Program provides assistance and support for 115 deserving students.”

Meet the 2019 AFGE Honorees

N’Jhari Jackson

N’Jhari is a 2019 graduate of Carrollwood Day School (CDS) in Tampa, Florida. He will begin college this fall and plans to major in forensic psychology and criminology and linguistics. N’Jhari was selected for the FBI Tampa Office Future Agents in Training (FAIT) program and wants to work for the FBI as a forensic psychologist and Chinese linguistic specialist after graduation. He was selected as a delegate to deliver the 2015 Boy Scout Report to the Nation in Washington, D.C. N’Jhari is heavily active in volunteerism in the Tampa area and earned the 2015 Prudential Spirit of Community Award, recognizing him as Florida’s top youth volunteer. He was also presented with the Congressional Award Bronze and Silver Medals for initiative, service, and achievement. N’Jhari developed NJ’s Love-to-the-Rescue, which raises funds to supply automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to schools and youth organizations. He helps ensure teachers and staff are trained in CPR, first aid, and AED use, and also advocates heart screenings for students and young athletes. N’Jhari is thankful for his mother’s AFGE membership, which was beneficial when she sustained an on-the-job injury and faced bureaucratic roadblocks within the medical system. “Being able to meet with AFGE officials and allowing them to work on her behalf breathed new life into my mom,” N’Jhari said. “AFGE advocated for her and reminded the parties of their legal obligations, demanding she be compensated after three months of worry. I am forever grateful.”

Activities and honors: Carson Scholar; Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout, Order of the Arrow; CDS varsity football, lacrosse; Junior Olympic swimming

Volunteerism: A Day with Vets/Blankets for Vets; Pajama Buddy Backpacks; Men of Vision Inc.; Joshua House, Children’s Home Society Florida; Shriners Hospitals for Children; Saving Young Hearts; Parent Heart Watch

Marcus Sledge

Marcus is a 2019 graduate of the Virginia Governor’s Academy for Engineering Studies at Lloyd C. Bird High School in Chesterfield, Virginia. He will begin college this fall and plans to major in chemical engineering, with career aspirations of developing sustainably produced pharmaceuticals and healthcare products that are more affordable and accessible. Marcus participated in summer engineering programs at Virginia Tech (BLAST — Building Leaders for Advancing Science and Technology) and North Carolina State University. Dr. Nancy Hoover, coordinator of the Virginia Governor’s Academy for Engineering Studies at L.C. Bird, said Marcus is the kind of student in whom the academy takes pride. “To say Marcus is a well-rounded student is a bit of an understatement,” Hoover said. “He is an academically talented student who shows a strong commitment to his community.”

Activities and honors: National Honor Society; senior class historian; L.C. Bird marching, concert, jazz bands; L.C. Bird Ultimate Frisbee; Richmond Kicker youth soccer

Volunteerism: Salvation Army Angel Tree; Massey Cancer Center; Colorado Fund for Muscular Dystrophy; Latino Festival

Christopher Washington

Chris is a pre-medicine biology major at Florida A&M University (FAMU) and expects to graduate in 2021. He was inspired to enter the medical field due to his cousin’s need for reconstructive surgery. Chris is interested in cosmetic surgery, particularly facial reconstruction. He is a 2018 graduate of Saint Petersburg [Florida] Collegiate High School. Chris said his mother joined AFGE because she realized how vital the union is for employees. “AFGE is always available to fight and supports employees,” Chris said. “The union works hard every day to ensure more benefits for employees and to ensure that they have a healthy, unbiased environment.”

Activities and honors: Physicians in Training; Biology Student Organization; Kappa League Male Leadership Institute; Dr. Mac J. Williams Sr. Academic Excellence Award; Outstanding Volunteer Award; Bright Future Scholarship recipient

Volunteerism: Bay Pines Veterans Affairs

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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