JAXPORT, Fla. – A 27-year-old Jacksonville nonprofit awarded a record-breaking amount of scholarships to local high school and college students.
The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) Local 1408 Scholarship Fund gave away $46,500 in scholarships to 21 high school seniors and college students during a ceremony at Edward Waters University Monday.
Evanton Stanley-Hayes is a graduate of Raines High School and plans to pursue a computer science degree from the University of Florida. He said receiving this scholarship is big financial assistance because “every little bit helps.”
“I’m just trying to get whatever I can to go to college, so I don’t have to take out so many loans. I’m going to use the money to pay for my tuition, my books and my meal plan,” Stanley-Hayes said.
Although the ILA Scholarship Fund program is an annual scholarship event, this year’s award marked the largest amount distributed to students since its establishment by Jacksonville native Charles Spencer in 1995, a news release said.
Ahja Butler is another scholarship recipient. She graduated from Paxon School for Advanced Studies and currently studies pre-veterinary science at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical School.
“I know I can do anything because I am destined for greatness. We are destined for greatness; you just have to strive for it and be present,” Butler said.
The scholarship is affiliated with labor union ILA Local 1408, the largest union of maritime works in the United States, which represents many of the longshoremen and dock workers who worked at JAXPORT.
“It is my greatest honor to support local students who deserve the opportunity to earn an education,” Spencer said. “This historic award speaks volumes about the scholarship fund’s importance to our community. We are grateful for our sponsors’ generosity as challenging times continue for many families on the First Coast.”
The applicants were required to have a minimum 3.0 GPA, complete community service activities and submit an essay to be considered for the scholarship.
The scholarship program has awarded nearly 1,000 scholarships totaling more than a million dollars. Six of the 21 recipients were first-generation college students.
EWU’s Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Donna Oliver was the keynote speaker at the award ceremony. She left the students with lasting advice that could impact their college futures.
“You cannot change the number of hours in a day, but you can change your behavior to maximize the amount you can accomplish. You must be able to balance work and play,” Butler said.