SHBP Scholarship Winner Extends ‘Deepest Gratitude’


July 2015


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Seafarer Efren Matias enjoys many aspects of his profession, but nothing tops the satisfaction he feels from taking care of his family.


Matias recently experienced reinforcement of that fulfilment when his daughter Allison – a 2011 Seafarers Health and Benefits Plan scholarship winner – graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.


The scholarship made a big difference for the Matias family, and led to both Efren and Allison reaching out to the union to say thank you.


“I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the Seafarers International Union for their continuous support of my academic endeavors for the past four years,” Allison noted. “Through their financial assistance, I was able to attain a bachelor of science degree in biology with a minor in chemistry. I hope to one day enter medical school and continue to serve the community as a physician.”


She added, “I will forever be grateful for the SIU scholarship program for being a part of this journey. Throughout the past four years, my family has stood by my side with much love and support and I am proud to say that this accomplishment is for all of us.”


Efren has sailed with the SIU for 14 years and currently ships from Norfolk. He pointed out that Allison isn’t the only college graduate in the family.


“With the help of the Seafarers International Union, I have been able to provide for the college education of my three children,” he said. “Allison’s graduation from Old Dominion happened with the assistance of the SIU. Thank you for his great union.”


Efren also praised the SIU-affiliated Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education, located in Piney Point, Maryland. He most recently upgraded at the school in June.


“The school gives me the opportunity to improve and helps enable me to provide for my family,” he said. “The upgrading classes provide opportunities for advancement…. There are various things I enjoy about this profession. I also like that we are given the opportunity to travel to interesting places and experience different cultures. But above all, this job gives me the opportunity for a better overall quality of life.”


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