Local 1408 of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) has awarded $26,800 in scholarships to 35 area high school seniors and college students, the largest group of recipients to date. The scholarship recipient were announced during a ceremony at the JAXPORT.
Applicants submitted essays discussing how current events will impact Jacksonville’s overall economy, JAXPORT’s growth and the funding necessary to deepen the St. Johns River.
Scholarship recipient Riley Despres is the daughter of longshoreman Jeff Despres, who has served the industry for 27 years. Her essay focused on the potential of a deeper river to secure current jobs and create new opportunities. “Deepening the St. Johns will help even more people like my dad have quality jobs and support their families.”
Established in 1995, the ILA scholarship program has awarded more than 800 scholarships totaling nearly half a million dollars. Originally developed to help longshoremen’s children pursue higher education, the program has since evolved to include other community students as the organization focuses on encouraging area youth.
Recipient Rebecca Roberts says she plans to use the funds to support her childhood dream of studying math education at the University of North Florida. “This scholarship will assist with a number of high costs outside of tuition, such as books and meals, and ultimately help me join the long-line of educators in my family.”
In her top-scoring essay, Rebecca wrote, “With the deepening of the river, more ships can bring even more products to the First Coast which will lead to more jobs and more revenue for the surrounding areas. More jobs will lead to more people moving to the area and allow other institutions in our community to grow.”
Students were also required to have a minimum 3.0 GPA and complete community service activities in addition to submitting an essay.
ILA Local 1408 helps connect more than 1,200 longshoremen and dock workers with jobs at JAXPORT. Opportunities for these members continue to grow along with the port.