Barbara Ramey, a 30-year-plus member of CSEA and chapter president for the past eight years, always knew she would earn a college degree someday but she’s especially glad that her diploma will be from the National Labor College.
“The professors are of the highest caliber and I always learn something significant from my fellow students. It’s just been the best experience,” says Barbara of CSEA Chapter 629 in Red Bluff, Calif.
I’ve been chapter president on and off for the past 20 years, so I thought I knew a lot about the labor movement, but I have learned so much more at the NLC. My studies have deepened my knowledge of the sacrifice of the labor movement and made me appreciate unions even more.
Commitment to her union has grown steadily over the years since she first joined her union some 30 years ago. The labor leader and school secretary was slated to finish her studies this summer but is now considering pursuing a dual degree.
Barbara received a scholarship from Union Plus, which provides the largest financial aid contribution to the NLC. Financial support certainly helps ease the cost of college, but, as Barbara explains, the Union Plus National Labor College Scholarship has another benefit:
The Union Plus scholarship is an example of the support that working families and union members get from the labor movement. It gave me both a financial and an emotional boost. That kind of support means so much to me, and it strengthens my resolve to keep the labor movement strong.
Holley Luia, a school secretary and CSEA steward, could have come up with a litany of reasons for not going back to college: she’s a busy union steward; she works full-time as a high school secretary; she has her hands full as a regional political action coordinator; and she is a foster parent of an 11-year-old.
But Holley is not one to make excuses; she’s about getting things done. Although it isn’t easy taking college classes when you’re a full-time parent and worker, she found it possible with the support of her union, the NLC and a Union Plus scholarship.
“The support has been amazing. I’ve found that I can always count on NLC faculty and staff to be there for me when I have questions,” says Holley, who heard about the NLC when she attended the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute last year.
Coincidentally, it was Barbara Ramey who convinced Holley that the NLC was the place for union members who want to finish their degrees.
“The more involved I am in the labor movement, the brighter the fire lit inside me shines,” says Holley.