Scholarships aid children of utility construction workers

High school seniors with a parent working in the utility construction industry could get some help paying for college this fall.

The National Utility Contractors Association is awarding more than $15,500 in scholarships to qualified students whose parents work for NUCA member firms.

Students applying for the scholarships are judged on academic standing, ACT and/or SAT scores, extra-curricular activities, community service and career goals. Applicants must write an essay on how to attract qualified workers or college graduates to the underground utility industry.

The application deadline is May 5.

Pamela Wagner, executive director of the NUCA Foundation for Education and Research, said scholarship recipients choose to study a variety of subjects, many unrelated to the utility construction industry.

“We get everything from elementary education to history … you name it,” she said. “We also get a fair amount of engineering [majors].”

Scholarship winners also attend an array of colleges. Most choose to attend public institutions.

Joesph Henry won last year’s D.A. Foster Memorial Scholarship, which pays $2,000 per year for four years and is named for one of NUCA’s founding members. Henry was ranked first in his graduating class at Centennial High School in Portland, Ore., and now attends Oregon State University’s Honors College studying civil engineering.

Henry said he plans to work as a project manager for three to seven years after graduating college. He then wants to start his own construction company or engineering firm.

More than 120 high school students submitted applications for the NUCA Foundation scholarships last year. Because of this success, Wagner said there are plans to increase funding for a fifth scholarship next year. “We’d like to do more,” she said.

Funding for three of the NUCA scholarships is obtained through a combination of donations and the organization’s annual scholarship golf tournament. The Antonio M. Marinelli Founders Scholarship is funded through the Italian-American Foundation. Marinelli was also a founding member of NUCA in addition to being a past president of the organization.

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“For a lot of them [students], our scholarships are one of several they receive to finance their education,” Wagner said. “It’s extremely helpful.”

Patrick Beeson can be contacted at [email protected].