SHBP Awards $132,000 in Scholarships


June 2014


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Eight individuals – one active Seafarer and seven dependents – now are better prepared to cope with the financial burdens associated with their respective higher education ambitions thanks to grants totaling $132,000 given to them recently by the Seafarers Health and Benefits Plan (SHBP) Scholarship Program.


Seafarer John Cox, along with dependents Jennifer Abdullah, Jeren Dingal, Amy Pinkham, Ryan Malloy, Laura Vega, Lashawn Shakes and Kevin Nguyen were chosen as recipients of the 2014 Charlie Logan Scholarships by the SHBP Scholarship Committee. Convening May 9 in Savannah, Ga., the group tagged Cox, Abdullah, Dingal, Pinkham, Molloy and Vega to receive $20,000 each to offset costs linked to obtaining four-year college degrees. Both Shakes and Nguyen landed $6,000 for use toward two-year degrees.


John Cox


Inland Master John Cox signed on with the union in 1979 following his graduation from Millikan High School in Long Beach, Calif.


He joined the SIU in the Port of Wilmington, Calif., and received his apprentice training at the union-affiliated Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education in Piney Point, Md. Following his completion of the school’s entry-level curriculum, it was off to the high seas for Cox.


He initially sailed in the deep sea division and worked in the capacities of ordinary seaman, wiper, tankerman and able bodied seaman. In 1994, Cox came ashore and assumed duties as a union representative – initially patrolman and later port agent – in the port of Wilmington.


Returning to sea in 2008, Cox obtained his mate’s license and began working in the inland waters division, principally with Crowley Towing and Transportation in Wilmington. He currently sails as a master with Houston-based G&H Towing.


“I have had the luxury of being an SIU member for almost 35 years,” Cox said in his scholarship application package. “Over the years I have been able to benefit from what the organization has provided me.


“As port agent, I was able to learn about the many ways the SIU benefited the membership and one of those benefits is the Scholarship Program and how good this program is for the member and their dependents,” he wrote. “If awarded a scholarship through this program, I intend to use it in the area of oil and gas since I live in the oil and gas capital of America, Houston.”


Cox plans to pursue a degree in business via online courses through Phoenix-based Thunderbird Executive School of Business. A native of Torrance, Calif., Cox currently resides in Kingwood, Texas, with his wife, Tausha, and two daughters, Alexis and Ashley.


Jennifer Abdullah


Jennifer Abdullah is the daughter of deep sea QMED Mohamad Abdullah (and mother, Yuharnis). She was born in New York.


Abdullah is a 2014 graduate of New York’s College Campus High School where she achieved an overall 90.26 grade point average (GPA). Abdullah was active in her community, participating in walks for breast cancer and AIDS. Additionally, she worked in several neighborhood beautification projects and held membership in her school’s language and culture clubs.


The victim of several health issues while growing up, Abdullah described herself as a horribly frail child. “I had asthma and suffered many attacks,” she shared in her scholarship application package.


“I spent many holidays on a hospital bed, getting my pulse checked while other children were spending time with their families,” she continued. “Fortunately, my immune system improved tremendously.”


As one may suspect, the foregoing infirmities presented unique challenges for Abdullah, who missed many hours of valuable class time. By meeting these obstacles head-on, however, she not only persevered, but also prevailed. “When I was healthy enough to attend school normally, I learned I had a talent for mathematics,” she said.


“When I was in middle school, I was placed in a high-school level course, where I would obtain high school credits. In high school, there was a placement test for calculus classes. I scored high enough to gain entry to the college calculus class.”


Abdullah hopes to follow her mother’s career path – she formerly was an accountant.


Abdullah has applied for admission to Bernard M. Baruch College, Hunter College and the City College of New York.


“Baruch College is recognized for their exceptional finance and accounting programs,” she said. “After I graduate, I hope to attend the Zicklin School of Business, which is a part of Baruch College, where I will obtain an MBA.”


Jeren Dingal


Jeren Dingal aspires to become an electrical engineer. He hails from Waialua, Hawaii and is the son of deep sea AB Jerry Dingal (and mother Jocylene, a cafeteria worker).


A 2014 graduate of Waialua High School, Dingal finished his requirements with a 3.98 overall GPA. He ranked sixth in his class, which numbered 94 students. Dingal participated in junior varsity and varsity basketball and football, varsity volleyball, and varsity track. He also served as manager of his school’s girls’ volleyball team and was a member of the Waialua High School Japanese Club.


Jeren was a volunteer coach for his community’s middle school basketball team. Additionally, he participated in cleanup projects involving beaches and other specialized locations used to grow Hawaii’s favorite starch staple, the taro root.


Working hard to achieve one’s objective is a guiding principle in Dingal’s approach to life. “This is a value that my dad has modeled and instilled in me over the years,” he said. “As a Seafarer, my dad worked very hard over the years. I know that it wasn’t always easy, but he always made sure that we had what we needed.


“Another value that my parents instilled was the importance of education,” he continued. “They constantly pushed us to study hard and do our best.”


Dingal looks forward to the next step in his journey: attending college.


“I know that it will take a lot of hard work and perseverance to make this dream (becoming a civil engineer) a reality, but I am up for the challenge,” he said.


Dingal has already earned three credits at Leeward Community College in Pearl City, Hawaii. He has been accepted for admission to Oregon State University.


Amy Pinkham


Amy Pinkham was born in Albany, New York and is the daughter of deep sea Recertified Bosun Errol Pinkham (and mother Patricia, a teacher).


A 2014 graduate of Colonie Central High School in Albany, Amy ranked 46th in her class of 428 students, and she posted a 94.17 GPA. Pinkham held membership in several honors organizations including the National Honor Society and the National Society of High School Scholars.


She participated on her school’s junior varsity as well as varsity cheerleading squads. A National Cheerleading Association All American, she was the recipient of numerous awards in national competition.


But there’s another side to Pinkham’s life: an outside-the-classroom episode that could well have spelled her downfall had it not been for her tenacity. She was the victim of cyber bullying – someone used information technology to deliberately harass her.


After facing the reality of the devastating public toll this event could have on her life, “I had two choices,” she said. “I could let the taunts define me or rise above … I chose to face the problem head on.”


While navigating this adversity, she turned to a group called iCARE. The people from that organization exemplified integrity, community, accountability, respect and empathy, according to Amy. After experiencing the group’s benevolence, she was encouraged to give back.


“A group as well-meaning as iCARE needed to be brought to the forefront,” she said. “So I decided to become a spokesperson. During my senior year, I became vice president.”


“I have gotten a taste of what it feels like to rally people behind a cause,” she added. “I now know that I want to help others in the future. I would like to do event planning for non-profit organizations to bring their causes to the forefront.”


Pinkham has been accepted to the University of New Hampshire. She will pursue here degree in liberal arts.


Ryan Molloy


Ryan Molloy hails from Dunnellon, Fla. He is the son of inland waters AB Robert Molloy (and mother, Linda, a teacher).


Molloy is a 2013 graduate of Dunnellon High School where he achieved a 4.56 overall GPA and ranked first in his class of 269 students. He participated in student government, was member of the National Honor Society and served as support commander in Dunnellon’s Junior ROTC Program.


In the athletic arena, he was golf team captain and also played soccer and baseball. Molloy tutored elementary school students, worked with the Salvation Army and participated in town beautification projects.

“Serving my country has been a dream of mine and therefore I desire to attend college in order to gain knowledge,” Molloy said. “Both of my parents served in the military and because of this I have always had respect for their devotion to duty; my goal is to follow in their footsteps and serve my country.”


Molloy’s aspiration is to become a civil engineer. “I have always been fascinated with building things and solving problems,” he said.


He currently attends the University of Florida where he is majoring in civil engineering. Malloy has earned 18 credits towards his bachelor’s degree. “By attending the University of Florida and gaining valuable leadership skills, I will be better equipped to achieve my goals,’ he concluded.


Laura Vega


Laura Vega’s passion is veterinary medicine.


The daughter of deep sea QMED David Vega (and mother, Robin) she was born in Baltimore. Vega is a 2014 graduate of Baltimore’s Greater Grace Christian Academy. The salutatorian of her class, she posted a 3.8 GPA.


 Laura was a member of her high school soccer team and was active in her school’s drama as well as theater clubs. She worked in the food pantry at Jerusalem Lutheran Church and labored nearly two years as a volunteer in the kennels at Eastern Animal Hospital. That experience had a deep and abiding impact on Vega.


“I was so moved by the hard work and dedication it took to care for the sick, injured and even abandoned animals,” she said. “Each experience changed me and although I was doing the often more laborious jobs to care for them … I do not regret one moment of it.


“It is because of this experience, which so humbled me that I hope to make Baltimore a better place one animal at a time,” she continued. “This is why the profession of veterinary doctor interests me so.”


Laura has applied for admission to Concordia University and the Community College of Baltimore County.


Lashawn Shakes


Lashawn Shakes is the wife of Great Lakes FOWT Earl Shakes. She hails from Jacksonville, Fla., where she graduated from First Coast High School in 1997. Following graduation, she earned 16 credits at Florida Community College.


 In 2000, Shakes joined the Seafarers and was a member of Water Survival Class #608 at the union-affiliated Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education. She sailed for about one year and achieved the rating of steward assistant. Although her career at sea was short-lived, the experience of sailing would leave a lasting impact on Shakes’ life.


“I met many interesting people from all over the world and still communicate with some of them,” she shared. Apparently she communicated with one of those “interesting people” on more than a few occasions. One of those individuals was her future husband, Earl.


The two met, were engaged and later married. They became parents in August 2000 with the arrival their son, Anthony. “Our son was due in August and I planned on going back to sea by December ….”


But Shakes’ plans would not come become reality. While her son was born with a clean bill of health, she emerged from the childbirth with several serious complications. As a result, Shakes’ desire to return to sea was dashed. “It took years to recover and I became a housewife.… I worked part time and also volunteered at schools and hospitals,” she said.


In 2009 she entered Sanford Brown Institute to study nursing. One year later, she completed her curriculum and became a certified medical assistant (CMA). Along the way, she achieved a perfect, 4.0 GPA. Since graduation, Shakes has been working at the University of Florida as a CMA.


“This career has given me knowledge and skills in patient care, anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, CPR, First Aid, Phlebotomy and more,” she said “I plan on pursuing my nursing career at Florida State College of Jacksonville for my first 60 credit hours to obtain my associate degree in science. Then I plan to continue by transferring to Chamberlain School of Nursing to finish with a bachelor’s of science in nursing.”


Kevin Nguyen


Kevin Nguyen was born in Seattle, Wash. He is the son of deep sea Recertified Steward Rang Nguyen (and mother, Dung ).


A 2014 graduate of the Academy of Citizenship and Empowerment in SeaTac, Wash., Nguyen posted a 3.60 overall GPA. He was active in athletics, participating in track and field, cross county, swimming and ultimate Frisbee.


In addition to being a member of the National Honor Society, Nguyen was deeply involved in his community. He volunteered his time working and supporting a host of endeavors including blood drives, food banks, Toys for Tots, Kits for Veterans, and Totem for Fitness.


An inherently motivated individual, Nguyen describes himself as one who loves a challenge and is unafraid of failure in his ongoing quest to achieve excellence. “I have a firm belief that it is never enough to do well … but to do well after being forced to go above and beyond the threshold,” he said.


It was this approach to self-actualization that prompted Nguyen to enroll in community college while still in high school. At the time he submitted his scholarship application package, he had already earned 75 credits at Highline Community College in Des Moines, Wash. While still doing his high school work, Nguyen posted a cumulative 3.35 GPA in his community college courses.



“While it was extremely difficult, especially since I had to juggle between college, high school, sports and home, I enjoyed it,” he said. “I have to be tenacious and persevere to teach myself how to deal with difficulty and (the possibility of) failure.”


Nguyen has applied for admission to the University of Washington, Seattle; University of Washington, Bothel and Washington State University. He plans on majoring in computer engineering.


The SHBP Scholarship Committee consisted of: Dr. Trevor Carpenter, College of Southern Maryland; Dr. Louis Fernandez, California State University; Dr. Michael Glaser, St. Mary’s College; Dr. Charles Lyons Jr., American Association of Colleges and Universities; Dr. Gayle Olson, University of New Orleans; Dr. Keith Schlender, Lourdes University; and Dr. Henry Toutain, Kenyon College.



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