BY ALFREDO ALVARADO
Mansi Moodi, Cae Lan Chow, Gabrielle Batista, Samuel Thomas and Steven Calco were recipients of college scholarships awarded by the District Council 37 Education Committee. The committee handed out the partial scholarships to the students at their Scholarship Gala on Sept. 30 at the Astoria World Manor, in Queens.
Steven Calco, a student at Baruch College, and the first person in his family to attend college, received the Lillian Roberts Scholarship, named after the former DC 37 executive director and long-time union leader. “My parents are immigrants from Italy, so this really means a lot to me,” said Calco, who is interested in labor history and wants to become an archivist. Calco is a member of Local 2627.
Mansi Moodi is a first year student at Rutgers University and came to the dinner with her parents. Her father, Sanjay Modi, is a member of Local 375. Sanjay is an engineer but Mansi plans to become a pharmacist. “It is tough, but I have a lot of support from my family,” she said. “And the support from the union too.”
Mini Thomas, also a member of Local 375, attended the dinner with her son Samuel. He’s attending Northeastern University in Boston where he’s majoring in political science. “I’m thinking about law, but I’m not sure yet,” he said.
Cae Lan Chow is attending Vaughn College in Queens and is studying engineering. “We appreciate the support we get from the union, everyone knows that college can get very costly,” said Chow, whose mother is a member of Local 384.
Gabrielle Batista, was not able to attend.
Alma Roper, the chairperson of the committee, thanked the committee members for their effort in organizing the affair and the local presidents for contributing to the scholarship fund. She also recalled her days of working full-time and taking college courses at night while raising two children. “If I could do it, you can too,” she told the young students and their families.
Executive Director Henry Garrido congratulated the recipients and talked about the union’s efforts to help families saddled with college debt by offering seminars and counseling to those who need help.
The union has been able to help members reduce their college debt by an average of $208 monthly he said. “Our union is not just about negotiating contracts for our members, our commitment goes beyond that,” Garrido said.