The UWUA congratulates Tara Cantalupo and Ava Taspatsaris for earning Union Plus scholarships. Both of these exceptional young women are the daughters of UWUA Local 1-2 members.
The Union Plus program awards scholarships based on outstanding academic achievement, personal character, financial need, and commitment to the values of organized labor. The scholarships can be used toward two-year college, four-year college, graduate school, or a recognized technical or trade school. The program is highly competitive; this year, Union Plus evaluated over 3,700 applicants and awarded 189 scholarships totaling $200,000.
A native of Poughkeepsie, Tara Cantalupo was awarded $1,000 to study education at Dutchess Community College, part of the State University of New York.
Her choice of major was inspired by her mother Melissa, a former teacher, and her cousin Johnny, who has autism. Cantalupo aspires to first teach elementary school and eventually pursue a master’s degree in special education.
Her father Robert Cantalupo lived through the 2012 ConEd lockout that led to improvements in Local 1-2’s wages and health benefits. Tara says, “Being so young at the time, I had no clue all this was happening because my parents never seemed panicked. My dad tells me that he trusted UWUA and had faith that they would get the job done for their members.”
Cantalupo is a graduate of Roy C. Ketcham High School where she played softball, participated in gymnastics, earned high honor roll and was a member of the National Honor Society. Throughout high school, she put in many volunteer hours at Stepping Stones Preschool and a Christmas card program for nursing home residents. Her sister Julia is now a sophomore at the same high school.
This Eastchester High School graduate received a $2,000 scholarship that she will use to attend New York University and work toward her long-term goal of becoming a physician serving underrepresented communities and helping eliminate breast cancer screening disparities. Her father Peter is an overhead troubleshooter at ConEd, her mother Giovanna a schoolteacher in New York City, and younger brother Pete an aspiring soccer star. Her dad said, “The whole family is incredibly proud of Ava’s accomplishments and drive.”
While in high school, Tsapatsaris managed to excel academically while also working as a lab technician at a local pharmacy and serving in many volunteer capacities. She was president of the Eastchester/Tuckahoe Rotary International chapter; reported on-air for Teen Kids News; held youth leadership positions with the American Cancer Society and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; and served as national youth spokesperson for the Loukoumi Make a Difference Foundation, a nonprofit that unites more than 100,000 children each year to make a difference in the world.
In 2020, Tsapatsaris was named Student of the Year by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society after raising nearly $100,000 in seven weeks to fund pediatric acute research. She also founded Uniting Against Breast Cancer, a nonprofit that organizes free or low-cost breast cancer screening opportunities for medically underserved women in New York.
Union Plus has awarded more than $5.2 million in educational funding to more than 3,600 union members, spouses, and dependent children since starting its scholarship program in 1991. Union Plus has other educational programs, as well, including its Free College program, a no-cost, online program for union members and their families seeking to earn an associate degree, and the Bachelor’s Degree Completion program, another no-cost, online program for union members and their families who want to complete a bachelor’s degree.
For more information on Union Plus educational programs and scholarships, visit www.unionplus.org.
For information on the UWUA’s scholarship program, visit www.uwua.net/news/2022-uwua-scholarship-program