The Linda Cushing Scholarship program launched by Part-Time Faculty United at College of the Canyons recently expanded to award four $500 scholarships per year to qualified students, according to Pete Virgadamo, history instructor and president of the Santa Clarita union.

In order to submit student names for consideration in one of three categories (financial need, academic merit, and thriving returning student), faculty must be members of the local. “We are the youngest of the three unions on campus,” says Virgadamo, “and the only one that has organized a student scholarship. We wanted to give back to students, recognizing that they are the reason we are all here at College of the Canyons.”

The program is named after union organizer, now AFT staffer, Linda Cushing, who “stood by us during the entire struggle to be recognized as a part-time faculty union at the college,” explains Virgadamo.

The scholarship is an “open-ended expenditure” that recipients are asked to spend on educational purposes, such as textbooks, tuition, or parking fees.

Scholarship winners are invited, along with their families and nominating faculty, to a dinner held each spring in their honor.

“The scholarship program has helped some on campus recognize us for what we are — not narrowly self-interested but responsible citizens of the campus,” explains Virgadamo. He is thrilled at the opportunity to expand the scholarship and looks forward to even further growth as union membership increases.