A Commitment to Diversity and Excellence

Each year since 2013, the City University of New York has supported the Joseph S. Murphy Scholarship for Diversity in Labor by providing an annual challenge-grant, encouraging yearly donations from numerous outside supporters. As a result, this scholarship program is able to provide generous scholarships to students pursuing their degrees at the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies.

Joseph S. Murphy Scholarship for Diversity in Labor Reception and Awards Program

Recognizing Labor’s Rising Leaders and Introducing Scholarship Recipients for the 2024 Academic Year.

Rising Leader 2024

As part of the annual Diversity Scholarship Awards Ceremony, the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies honors Rising Leaders who have made a difference in the lives of workers and our communities, through their passionate commitment to worker rights, civil & human rights, and social justice in the broadest sense.

Justice Favor

Director of Strategic Partnerships Greater New York LECET

Justice Favor creates partnerships. Bringing together developers, contractors, officials, and workers, Justice builds pro-labor coalitions that are committed to increasing the number of union worksites and jobs in New York City and the surrounding areas – jobs that put worker safety and workplace justice first.

2024 JSM Scholarship Recipients

Jefferson Charles

Master’s in Labor Studies

From watching his Haitian immigrant parents struggle for years in physically difficult, low-wage jobs, Jefferson Charles learned early on about contradictions – “The American Dream vs. the neoliberal reality.” His family background and growing political awareness led him to major in Sociology at SUNY Old Westbury, where he explored history, theory, and social and political movements. Realizing the centrality of worker organizing, Jefferson got a job for 2 years as an organizer with SEIU Local 32-BJ. He worked on the dynamic and successful campaign to organize airport workers. The most rewarding part of the campaign was getting to know workers from so many different countries and sharing their stories and campaign successes with them. Jefferson is currently working as a barista and is participating in the “CUNY Campaign for Abortion Rights”. He looks forward to joining the MA in Labor Studies, and then to returning to labor organizing work!

Bernadette King Fitzsimons

Master’s in Labor Studies

Bernadette King Fitzsimons learned about workers’ rights and union struggles before she could even talk – from listening to the dinner conversations of her labor organizer parents.
As a student at the University of Michigan, she delved into economic inequality, public policy, and the power of social movements. After college, Bernadette joined the NYC Urban Fellows Program, to work on initiatives supporting worker owned cooperatives.
With our own Professor Rebecca Lurie, Bernadette helped research and write the outstanding booklet, A Union Toolkit for Cooperative Solutions, exploring how unions can and do use worker-ownership as a strategy to build power.

Shavelle Knox

Bachelor’s in Labor Studies

For her Associate degree, Shavelle Knox focused on Labor Studies and Business Management — a great combination for her work with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 237. Shavelle became an IBT member in 2012, then a shop steward, and is a strong advocate for improved safety and health for Housing workers. Her tireless efforts were recognized by the union, and she’s been the Assistant Director of the Housing Division for the past 5 years. Her guiding motto is: “The workers who take care of the city must be taken care of as well!”

June Lei

Master’s in Labor Studies

After studying art history at Bodoin College, June Lei got a job at a museum, a competitive field with few jobs. Marshalling her courage, June asked her union about pursuing a promotion. When their joint advocacy succeeded a light bulb went off! June experienced the power of collective action and began to see her own potential for leadership. June’s talents were appreciated by Local 1502, DC 37, and she was asked to join the Bargaining Team. Their contract gains were unprecedented. Supported by DC 37, June joined SLU’s Advanced Certificate in Labor Studies, where she has been an outstanding student. Her enthusiasm and passion led her to run for office and now June Lei, is Secretary of Local 1502, DC 37!

Marcia Matheson

Bachelor’s in Labor Studies

As an 1199 delegate for 15 years, Marcia Matheson says that, “My commitment to social justice runs deep, propelling my fight for equality and fairness in every aspect of union activities.” She’s proven the truth of these words, fighting for 1199 members — in the workplace, but also on the political front. When Chicago mobilized for the Fight for Fifteen campaign, Marcia travelled there to help them win. She recently gathered petition signatures and lobbied in Albany to increase Medicaid funding in NY, to prevent threatened hospital closures. Marcia was selected by 1199 as a key speaker at the SEIU International Convention this weekend.

Latisha (Tisha) McNeill

Bachelor’s in Labor Studies

Tisha McNeill has been an activist for as long as she can remember. As a young teen, she participated in, and then became a peer educator, for young women. Tisha earned her Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education at Hostos, and became an 1199 member in 2015. She was happy to learn of the many benefits that the union had won in the past, but especially thrilled to learn about the Childcare Fund. It was a lifesaver for her!
This fund is unique, providing parents with a broad array of activities and options for their children, from daycare, to afterschool, to sleepaway camp, and even SAT Prep Courses. Tisha got involved in the Childcare Fund Committee at NY Presbyterian Hospital to make sure that every 1199 member takes advantage of this extraordinary benefit.

Hermala Rodriguez Quamina

Master’s in Labor Studies

The death of Michael Brown was a wake up call in the political awareness of Hermala Rodriguez Quamina, cementing her desire to pursue social justice activism.
After graduating from Brown University, she worked in Rochester with Metro Justice , a grassroots organization, on the Fight for Fifteen campaign and other issues.
In these campaigns, Hermela learned about
— the key role of rank and file leadership;
— the necessity of patience in fights for reforms;
— and the importance of celebrating even partial victories!
At SLU, in the MA level Union Semester program, Hermela interned with IATSE, the International Alliance of Theater Stage Employees, Local 161, archiving the history of the union local. Upon completion of her MA, Hermela plans to work as an organizer with a workers center or union.

JSM Scholarship for Diversity in Labor Awards Ceremony Archive