Washington, D.C. – Union Plus recently awarded $250,000 in scholarships to 199 students representing 37 unions, including two winners representing the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS). This year’s group of scholarship recipients includes university, college, and trade or technical school students from 42 states. The BRS winners are:
- Matthew Mehrtens of Roland, Iowa. Mehrtens, whose father, Frank Mehrtens, is a member of BRS Local 43, has been awarded a $2,000 scholarship.
- Wyatt Watring of Otterville, Missouri. Watring, whose father, Colby Watring, is a member of BRS Local 72, has been awarded a $500 scholarship.
“During a time of continued disruption and hardship for many families, Union Plus is glad that we are once more able to share a higher than usual scholarship award amount to help union families offset the cost of college education,” Union Plus President Mitch Stevens said. “We are proud to support this year’s exceptional group of 199 winners as they pursue higher education in a new environment after a year of largely virtual schooling.”
Meet the 2021 BRS Honorees
Iowa State University (ISU)
Roland-Story High School (RSHS), Story City, Iowa (2020)
Matthew recently completed his first year as an aerospace engineering major at Iowa State. He hopes to be admitted into ISU’s concurrent graduate program, which allows juniors and seniors to begin working on a master’s degree while completing a bachelor’s degree. Matthew wants to be an astronautical engineer and eventually work at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. He is thankful for the support BRS has shown his father, who previously worked third-shift maintenance at a non-union factory. “My dad was subject to unpleasant and sometimes dangerous work conditions,” Matthew said. “As a BRS member and trustee, he is no longer subject to the will of inhumane managers or treated like an expendable object.”
RSHS vocal instructor Tanner Stutzman praised Matthew’s work ethic and said that he is quick to encourage others. “I have never seen a more ambitious, hardworking, and passionate young person. Matthew is an expert at managing his time and still enjoying the trivial parts of life,” Stutzman said. “He succeeds at everything to which he puts his mind. Matthew also shows a great deal of respect for authority, his peers, and those who look up to him.”
Activities and honors: National Honor Society; Eagle Scout; NASA/Texas Instruments STEMnauts; RSHS student council; RSHS Thor’s Men vocal octet; RSHS concert, jazz bands; ISU Loyal Scholar; ISU College of Engineering Award; RSHS Rose Schaefer Scholar; Iowa All-State Chorus; RSHS Outstanding Senior Award; RSHS Outstanding Vocal Senior Award
Otterville [Missouri] High School (OHS) (2021)
Wyatt will begin the electrical distribution systems program at the State Technical College of Missouri this fall. He plans to follow in the footsteps of his brother, who is a journeyman lineman and member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Wyatt’s family has a rich union tradition. His grandfather was a BRS member and served in the U.S. Army. Wyatt’s father has been a BRS member since 1992. “BRS has provided great wages and benefits to my family, and we would not have what we have today without the union’s benefits,” Wyatt said.
OHS counselor Maria Staus said Wyatt is an intelligent and attentive young man who takes pride in his work and is passionate about his career choice. “Wyatt has proven himself a hard worker who is ready to take on any task, no matter how large or small,” Staus said. “He comes to school every day with a positive attitude and a genuine interest in and concern for his peers. Wyatt is the type of student who gets along with nearly everyone.”
Activities and honors: National FFA Organization; Future Business Leaders of America; OHS varsity baseball, basketball, track and field; Otterville FFA Leadership Award; FFA Chapter Degree; FFA Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) Forage Production Efficiency Award
Learn More About the Union Plus Scholarship Program
The Union Plus Scholarship Program, now in its 30th year, awards scholarships based on outstanding academic achievement, personal character, financial need, and commitment to the values of organized labor. The program is offered through the Union Plus Education Foundation.
Since starting the program in 1991, Union Plus has awarded more than $5 million in educational funding to more than 3,400 union members, spouses, and dependent children. Union Plus Scholarship awards are granted to students attending a two-year college, four-year college, graduate school, or recognized technical or trade school. The selection process is very competitive, and this year 5,008 applications were received from 67 unions and all
50 states, plus the District of Columbia, two U.S. territories, and six Canadian provinces.
Visit unionplus.org/scholarship for applications and benefit eligibility.
About Union Plus
Union Plus, founded by the AFL-CIO in 1986, uses the collective buying power of America’s
12.5 million union members to deliver top-quality benefits and services at competitive prices to working families. In addition to the scholarship program, Union Plus offers the Free College program, which makes it possible for union members and their families to earn an associate degree completely online at no cost. As a complement to the Free College program, Union Plus offers the Bachelor’s Degree Completion program, providing union members and their families a no-cost option to complete their bachelor’s degree completely online. Union Plus also provides a wide range of money-saving programs, including discounts on wireless services from AT&T, the only nationwide unionized wireless carrier; insurance protection; savings on travel and recreation; and more. For additional information, visit unionplus.org.