Local 1408 of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) awarded over $26k in scholarships last week to 35 area high school seniors and college students, the largest group of recipients to date. The scholarship recipients were announced during a ceremony at the JAXPORT.
All winners 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. Students were also required to have a minimum 3.0 GPA and complete community service activities in addition to submitting an essay.
Scholarship recipient Riley Despres, the daughter of longshoreman Jeff Despres, who has served the industry for 27 years, focused her essay 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,” she wrote.
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.
ILA Local 1408 helps connect more than 1,200 longshoremen and dock workers with jobs at Jacksonville’s Port.