When applications arrived for this year’s Seafarers Health and Benefits Plan (SHBP) scholarship program, one might say the selection committee faced a proverbial “nice problem to have.” There were so many well-qualified applicants, the committee in early September designated an additional 2020 award – for QMED Charles Toliver Jr., who has sailed with the SIU since 2001. In August, the committee had announced the other nine grants (for two active Seafarers and seven dependents), which totaled $132,000 in value. Toliver’s scholarship is for four years and is valued at $20,000.
While Toliver intends to put the funds to good use, he doesn’t plan to change careers. He earned a third assistant engineer’s license in 2018 but needs additional coursework in order to continue sailing in a licensed capacity. (He also still sails with the SIU, most recently in July aboard the USNS Brittin.)
“The scholarship helps me a great deal,” said Toliver, who lives in Jacksonville, Florida. “Those classes are very expensive, so I’m glad I received it.”
A frequent upgrader at the SIU-affiliated Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education, Toliver views the merchant marine as a good match for his interest in, and aptitude for mechanics, science and technology. He has identified several maritime academies as potential landing spots during his ongoing education.