Student Connections

Morton Bahr Online Scholarship Recipients Named; Cross Section of CDL Students "Represents Middle Class"

By Hope Ferguson, senior writer

January 9, 2013

Morton Bahr

Morton Bahr

SUNY Empire State College has announced The Morton Bahr Online Learning Scholarship recipients for the 2012-13 academic year. They are Monique Y. Durant, of Buffalo; Kevin Eitzmann, of Ballston Lake; Michael B. Farrell, of Leander, Tex.; James E. Martin, of Sherrill; Diane Medick, of Clifton Park; and Eha Urbsalu, of Manhattan.(Photo at left: Morton Bahr)

The scholarship was created in the name of president emeritus of the Communications Workers of America and college alumnus Morton Bahr ’83,’95. Bahr is recognized as one of the labor movement’s leading experts on technology and information-based industries and all of the students will pursue completion of their bachelor’s degrees through the college’s Center for Distance Learning.

“My congratulations go to all of this year’s scholarship winners,” said Bahr. “Since so much of today’s economy is knowledge-based it makes sense to have a scholarship that takes advantage of Empire State College’s strengths in distance learning. These working women and men represent a broad cross section of the middle class of this great nation and I am proud to work with Empire State College to support their efforts to improve their lives and the lives of their families.”

“It is a pleasure to join Morty Bahr in congratulating this year’s recipients,” said Acting President Meg Benke. “These scholarships are another example of meeting the national, SUNY and Empire State College completion agenda. Distance education at the college not only provides working people flexibility in terms of time and place, but also the learning process itself helps to prepare people for the global economy.”

“We are proud of this year's Bahr Scholars and appreciate this generous support for our students,” said Tom Mackey, dean of the college’s Center for Distance Learning. “Distance education at the college provides working professionals with the flexibility to organize their own time and place for learning. Our online students are also empowered to pursue individualized degrees in collaboration with peers and guided by faculty mentors, which is why we are so optimistic about their future success.”

About Monique Y. Durant

Monique Y. Durant

Monique Y. Durant

Durant, at left, who is earning her Bachelor of Arts in Human Services, is a senior data processing equipment officer with the Buffalo Board of Education and a member of the Professional Clerical Technical Employees Association. She enrolled in Erie Community College at age 48 because she wanted to help improve the human services she saw in her area. After setbacks including a heart attack, she returned to school and was on the dean’s list each semester, as well as being inducted into Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She graduated from Erie Community College in May. After she retires from the board of education, for which she has worked for 17 years, she hopes to become an administrator in the human services field and to go on for her master’s degree, also at Empire State College. “I truly believe that we never stop learning,” she says.

About Kevin Eitzmann

Eitzmann, who is earning a Bachelor of Arts, is a social media/assistant field coordinator for the New York State AFL-CIO. He is a former member of Local 1118 and UFCW Local 1. He is in the process of rejoining the CWA. After being diagnosed in high school with ulcerative colitis, Eitzmann earned his GED and started studies at the University at Albany, but needed to withdraw due to his illness. After decreasing the stress that was triggering his illness, he enrolled in Schenectady Community College, where he met his wife, Alison. He entered Empire State College to complete his bachelor’s degree.

About Michael Farrell

Farrell, who is earning a Bachelor of Arts, is employed as an AT&T service representative and is a local union vice president at CWA Local 6132. The son of a union sheet worker, he chose to enroll at the college after attending the University of North Texas. He left school to become a full-time driver for UPS, and was “haunted” by his decision, spurring him to enroll to complete his degree program. Farrell volunteers his time with the dog rescue shelter, Occupy Movement and other education and social issues.

Martin, at left, is a New York State Police investigator and belongs to the New York State Police Investigators Association IUPA – Local 4 AFL-CIO. Martin has been employed by the state police for 24 years, starting as a uniformed trooper. He has received two Superintendent’s Commendations, has a private pilot certificate and also is a certified open-water scuba diver. Martin also has completed two marathons, and is a founding board member of a nonprofit organization, Team Believe, which raises money to assist children in New York with serious illness. Hoping for a second career someday, Martin also may go on to earn his MBA.

About James Martin

James Martin

James Martin

Martin, at left, is a New York State Police investigator and belongs to the New York State Police Investigators Association IUPA – Local 4 AFL-CIO. Martin has been employed by the state police for 24 years, starting as a uniformed trooper. He has received two Superintendent’s Commendations, has a private pilot certificate and also is a certified open-water scuba diver. Martin also has completed two marathons, and is a founding board member of a nonprofit organization, Team Believe, which raises money to assist children in New York with serious illness. Hoping for a second career someday, Martin also may go on to earn his MBA.

About Diane Medick

Medick, at left, who is earning her Bachelor of Science in Business, Management and Economics, is employed by the Civil Service Employees Association, Inc. as a senior secretarial office assistant, and is a member of a small in-house union of 150 members called United Union Employees, for which she serves as a shop steward. Medick seeks to advance in her career with her current employer after earning her degree. She earned her associate degree from Maria College.

About Eha Urbsalu

Eha Urbsalu

Eha Urbsalu

Urbsalu, at left, who is earning a Bachelor of Arts in The Arts, is an actress and songwriter managed by Central Casting/Grant Wilfley Agencies. She belongs to the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of TV and Radio Artists. Urbsalu is also the president of the Music Industry Club at the college. Urbsalu grew up in the Soviet Union, where her interest in the arts began. In 1989, she represented Estonia and became the first young woman from behind the Iron Curtain to represent her country in the Supermodel of the World competition in the U.S. She scored her first movie role in 1994. Urbsalu attended Stanford University and earned an associate degree at CUNY Hunter College before enrolling at the college.

About Morton Bahr

Morton Bahr, president emeritus of the Communications Workers of America, has been one of the world’s most influential union leaders. He is known for his groundbreaking leadership in worker-education initiatives and for his expertise on technology and information-based industries. Bahr led the 700,000-member union between 1985 until his retirement in 2005. His tenure at the union’s helm saw a major shift in the nature of the telecommunications industry in the face of rapidly changing technology.

Bahr graduated from the college’s Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies in 1983 and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the State University of New York Board of Trustees in 1995. In 2011, he was recognized with a Citizen Laureate Award as part of the college’s 40th-anniversary celebrations.

About the Scholarship

Since its inception in 2001, the scholarship has helped 56 people continue their education through distance learning. Scholarship awards cover tuition for up to two courses per term, fees and special services.

Preference for this prestigious award is given to union members, their families and/or domestic partners, but anyone may apply. Funding for the scholarship comes from the Morton Bahr Foundation.

The application for next year will be posted to the college’s website in January 2013.

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Article Contributors
  • Sandra Barkevich
  • Joe Boudreau
  • Francesda Cichello
  • Helen Edelman
  • Hope Ferguson
  • Dareth McKenna
  • Dru Normark