Granite City graduates Ashleigh Briggs and Madisen Palmisano were recipients of the Jane Becker Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees Scholarship. (From left) Briggs, SOAR President Jeff Rains, Palmisano and SOAR Vice President Dennis Barker.
PONTOON BEACH — So far, things have been golden for Ashleigh Briggs in 2015.
Briggs turned in an outstanding soccer season this spring, helping the Granite City Warriors win 11 matches and capture a regional championship. She also won a pair of scholarships, including the Jane Becker Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees Scholarship.
Briggs, who graduated from GCHS in May, was one of two recipients for the scholarship. The other was Madisen Palmisano, who also graduated from GCHS three months ago.
Briggs and Palmisano were awarded $3,000 scholarships for their essays they wrote on the topic “Right-To-Work.” Both received their award at the sixth annual Jane Baker Scholarship Award Banquet Aug. 10 at the Neighborhood Social Club in Pontoon Beach.
Earlier this year, Briggs earned a full-ride scholarship to play soccer for McKendree University. By getting the Jane Becker SOAR scholarship on Aug. 10, Briggs’ freshman year at the Lebanon school has been paid in full.
“I’m very pleased,” Briggs said. “It means a lot and it takes a lot off of my shoulders, not having to worry too much about money.”
Briggs credits her grandmother, Norma Free, for getting the scholarship, which is named after the wife of the late United Steelworkers President, George Becker.
“She has helped me a lot,” Briggs said. “She, along with my parents, got me to where I am now.”
Briggs said she will receive $1,500 for the fall semester. She will get the other $1,500 for the spring semester if she gets at least a 2.0 grade-point average for the fall term.
Briggs will major in athletic training at McKendree. She will play for a women’s soccer team that finished 7-11 last fall.
This spring, Briggs was one of the top scorers for the Granite City girls’ soccer team with nine goals and nine assists for a team-high 27 points. She helped the Warriors win their first regional championship since 2011.
“It was great,” said Briggs, who played with the Granite City girls soccer program all four years. “It’s definitely one I’ll remember, especially winning that regional championship. It was a good feeling. I wished we could have gone farther, but we had a good year.”
Palmisano, who was a member of the GCHS dance team and several other clubs, plans to attend Saint Louis University and major in nursing this fall.
“I’m excited about it,” Palmisano said. “I know it’s going to be a whole new experience.”
Also at the banquet, SOAR members George Snyder and Marlene Carey earned Volunteer of the Year and Activist of the Year awards, respectively. Dean Webb, president of the Greater Madison County Federation of Labor, was named the Labor Leader of the Year and state Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville) was named “Friend of SOAR.”