JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The Jacksonville chapter of the International Longshoremen's Association awarded $45,000 in scholarships to more than 30 local high school seniors and college students.

Students receiving scholarships submitted winning essays, had to have a minimum 2.75 GPA and are involved in community service.

The scholarships ranged from $2,000, $1,500 and $1,000.

"I'm very proud of myself," said Vonquell Quinney, a top scholarship winner. "If it wasn't for the scholarship, I would be able to college, but it would include taking out a lot of loans 'cause my school is a private school and it costs a lot of money. It cost $22,000."

The ILA Local 1408 Scholarship Fund was founded in 1995. Local 1408 helps to connect longshoremen, dock workers who are skilled in loading and unloading cargo ships, with jobs at the Port of Jacksonville and provides benefits for its members.

Sheran Fowler, who won the sixth annual award 12 years ago, said she may not have been able to attend college so soon without the scholarship funds.

"I'm so proud of these young adults that applied for the scholarship," said Fowler, an accountant for the ILA scholarship board committee. "I saw what the ILA scholarship did for me, and I want to see what it can do for someone else."

The ILA is the largest union of maritime workers in North America, representing more than of 65,000 skilled dock workers.