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October 23, 2014

2014 - 2015 Morton Bahr Online Learning Scholarships Announced

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Oct. 21, 2014) SUNY Empire State College has announced The Morton Bahr Online Learning Scholarship recipients for the 2014-15 academic year.

They are Mary Broderick, of Schaghticoke, N.Y., Migdalia Crego, of Amsterdam, N.Y., Jenny Love-Pouchak, of Latham, N.Y., Deborah Palka, of Plymouth, Mich. and Monica Refermat, of Lancaster, N.Y.

The Bahr online scholarship supports students enrolled in the college’s Center for Distance Learning studying to complete their bachelor’s online. It was created in the name of president emeritus of the Communications Workers of America and college alumnus Morton Bahr ’83, ’95.

Bahr is nationally recognized as one of the labor movement’s leading experts on technology and information-based industries.

Available to anyone across the country, the Bahr online scholarship expands access, primarily for union members and other workers, by providing financial support leading to a high-quality SUNY Empire State College degree.

“Congratulations to the 2014 scholarship recipients,” said Bahr. “Today’s jobs are rapidly changing and increasingly complex, which places new demands on working men and women. Lifelong learning and online education are now becoming part of mainstream employment. A scholarship to Empire State College provides working men and women with help paying for college, the opportunity to learn online while holding down a job and the skills they need to keep learning throughout their lifetime.”

“I join Morton Bahr in congratulating the 2014 scholarship recipients,” said Merodie A. Hancock, president of the college. “Many recipients have taken advantage of the Bahr online scholarship to get their bachelor’s in labor studies, with the goal of starting or advancing a career with organized labor. Several more have earned degrees in other areas, such as nursing, business, human services and a number of others. The Bahr online scholarship helps working men and women pay for tuition and Empire State College helps them complete a bachelor’s, while they are balancing jobs, families and community commitments.”

About the Bahr Online Scholarship Recipients

Head shot of 2014 Bahr Scholar Broderick

Mary Broderick

‌Mary Broderick, a member of PEF Division 203, works as a telecommunications analyst at the NYS Department of Public Service. She began her career at Verizon, while attending Hudson Valley Community College and raising three children. Starting as a union member, she was promoted to management. However, she was laid off after a reduction in the work force. She moved on to a federal mentoring program and, after one year, was named program manager for Foster Grandparents. Now she has returned to telecommunications. She began online courses at Empire State College in 2013, with a concentration in communications for managers. The Bahr scholarship supplements her student loans. Earning her degree, she say, “will allow me to stay competitive for future promotions and job transfers.” ‌

Bahr Scholar - Crego

Migdalia Crego

Migdalia Crego, deputy compact administrator for the NYS Office of Children and Family Services, is a 61-year-old grandmother of two. One of her motivations for returning to school is to “demonstrate, by example to my grandchildren, that one is never too old to realize their  personal, educational and career goals in life.” Her daughter earned a bachelor’s degree in Business, Management and Economics from the college, and is pursuing her master’s degree with the college in Learning and Emerging Technologies. “She has inspired me to follow in her footsteps,” Crego said. Although she plans to retire soon, Crego wants to continue to be a role model to her grandchildren by earning a degree in Community and Human Services.

Head shot of LovePouchak 2014 Bahr Scholar

Jenny Love-Pouchak

Jenny Love-Pouchak a senior court office assistant, is a member of CSEA Local 333 and a married mother of three, who is studying for a bachelor’s degree in Human Development with a concentration in psychology. She began her degree at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, but had to suspend her studies after three years. In the summer of 2013, she decided to take the advice of her pastor, Buddy Cremeans, of Northway Church, to face her fears and seize her dreams. Like many Empire State College students, Love-Pouchak is balancing a family life and work with her studies, including putting an 18-year-old through college. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work following her graduation to be able to work with children from troubled homes. “The Morton Bahr Scholarship is helping me to follow my dreams, and reach my goal of making a difference in the lives of those who need it,” she said.

Head shot of Bahr Scholar

Monica Refermat

Monica Refermat, the daughter of union members (CWA and NYSUT), interrupted her higher education to concentrate on earning a living. Starting as a retail clerk, she worked her way up to assistant manager of an athletic store. In recognition of  her work ethic, she was promoted to assistant manager in a larger mall location and later a position with a large cable company. While attending a career fair two years later, she spoke to a law enforcement officer about his career, and decided that was what she wanted to do as well. After a very high score on the civil service test, she has enrolled in Empire State College to meet the educational requirements for a law enforcement officer. “As a recipient of a Bahr Scholarship, I will gain the breadth of knowledge required to meet both my career and educational goals,” she said.

Deborah Palka (not pictured) was always a high-achieving student, graduating from her high school as valedictorian and earning an associate degree with a 4.0 GPA. However, it wasn’t until she was 44 and working as a grocery chain stocker for 15 years, that she took up her pursuit of higher education again. “I longed for something more personally satisfying and a workplace that was more creative,” she said. At Empire State College, she continued to do well, and is pursuing a degree in Business, Management and Economics with a concentration in management. She is looking for a post-graduation career in college administration, tourism, project management, or planning and development.

About the Morton Bahr Online Learning Scholarship

Scholarship awards fully cover tuition, fees and special services. Students in the program are eligible for scholarship funding for one or two courses per term, up to a maximum of 8 credits per term.

Once enrolled, students also must apply for other federal, state, corporate, or union financial aid for which they may be eligible.

Preference for this scholarship 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 2015.

About Morton Bahr

Morton Bahr, president emeritus of the Communications Workers of America, has been one of the world’s most influential union leaders and is nationally respected and recognized for his expertise on technology- and information-based industries.

Bahr led the 700,000-member union beginning in 1985 through 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.

Known for transforming CWA into an education-driven union, he negotiated a number of educational benefits with the management of various companies to enable CWA members to upgrade their skills by earning college degrees in order to compete in the changing workforce.

Bahr earned his B.S. in labor studies from the college’s Harry Van Arsdale Jr. School of 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 SUNY Empire State College

Empire State College, the nontraditional, open college of the SUNY system, educates more than 20,000 students worldwide at eight international sites, more than 35 locations in the state of New York, online, as well as face to face and through a blend of both, at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels.

The average age of an undergraduate student at the college is 35 and graduate students average age 40.

Most Empire State College students are working adults. Many are raising families and meeting civic commitments in the communities where they live, while studying part time.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each undergraduate student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career.

Working with their mentors, students design an individual degree program and engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or through a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to choose where, when and how to learn.

Students have the opportunity to enroll five times during the year.

The college’s 73,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.

The college was first established in 1971 by the SUNY Board of Trustees with the encouragement of the late Ernest L. Boyer, chancellor of the SUNY system from 1970 to 1977.

Boyer also served as United States commissioner of education during the administration of President Jimmy Carter and then as president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

More information about the college is available at

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