United Academics Scholarships

Each year, United Academics awards scholarships to students pursuing social and economic justice. The application deadline for all awards is Friday, March 31, 2017. Winners are selected by the United Academics Scholarship Committee and will be notified by Monday, April 17, 2017

Applications will be accepted beginning in March 2017

See individual award descriptions on this page for details.

Post and distribute!

Send the flyers below to student activists and organizations!

Download print-ready material:

To request hard copies, email Patti Gannon pgannon@unitedacademics.org.

Past Recipients

Since 2005, UA has awarded scholarships to 50 outstanding students working for social justice.

David Shiman Award

The David Shiman Award of $1,500 is presented to a UVM senior with an outstanding and sustained record of community service, especially in pursuit of social or economic justice. The award is named in honor of David Shiman, longtime professor of education at UVM and past president of United Academics.

To be eligible, you must have:

  • senior standing at the University of Vermont, and
  • a minimum GPA of 3.0. 

To apply for the Shiman Award, submit 

  • a 3-4 page essay in which you describe your involvement in community service, especially as related to social and/or economic justice causes;
  • documentation of your GPA (such as a screenshot or scan of a current transcript);
  • contact information (name, email address, and phone number) for two faculty or community members who can attest to your activities.

Email all application materials to Patti Gannon pgannon@unitedacademics.org

The application deadline for the Shiman Award is April 22, 2016. The winner will be selected by the United Academics Scholarship Committee.or

Note: All students who apply for the Shiman Award will automatically be considered for a Jeffrey Brace Award.

David Shiman, Professor of Education

David Shiman began at UVM in 1971 as an Assistant Professor in Education where he committed himself to working for social justice through his professional work. However, his social justice activism began well before then. His consciousness about race received an awakening in the 1950s with the arrival of Jackie Robinson on the roster of his beloved Brooklyn Dodgers. It was nurtured by his early experiences teaching in post-colonial Tanzania in the early 1960s. While pursuing doctoral study on African education at UCLA in the mid-1960s, he was active in the anti-Vietnam War movement, campaigned for fair housing legislation, and taught in an adult vocational training center in Watts after the 1966 riots.
Over the years, David has taught courses and conducted workshops on prejudice reduction and human rights education with Palestinian activists on the West Bank, former Solidarity unionists in Poland, teachers and lawyers in South Africa, human rights activists and teachers in Guyana, and with many groups across the United States. He established (with David Conrad) the Center for World Education within the College of Education and Social Services in 1974 and for nearly forty years has offered courses focusing on global perspectives education, peace and justice, and multicultural education.
David has spent over five years advancing social justice goals through his work in South Africa, China, Costa Rica, Tanzania, and Ghana. He served on Amnesty International USA's National Board of Directors in the mid-1980s and helped launch its national human rights education program. He has written extensively on cultural diversity and human rights, publishing books entitled The Prejudice Book, Teaching Human Rights, Economic and Social Justice: A Human Rights Perspective, and Human Rights: Here and Now (co-author).
More recently, he was active in the successful unionization drive for United Academics at UVM in 2000-2002. He then served as union president from 2004 to 2013, during which time he was chief negotiator for four contracts and a bargaining team member for two additional contracts. In 2013, he was appointed chair of the Board of Directors for the Peace and Justice Center in Burlington. He retired from UVM after 43 years in 2014. He has two daughters, Kathleen and Sarah, and lives with his wife, Elise Guyette, in South Burlington, VT.

Linda Backus Memorial Award

The Linda Backus Memorial Award of $1,000 is presented to an undergraduate student for outstanding community service, especially in pursuit of social or economic justice. The award is named in honor of Linda Backus, former professor of education at UVM, committed union organizer, and second president of United Academics.

To be eligible, you must have:

  • completed two years at a higher education institution (not necessarily in Vermont), and
  • an immediate family member - parent, step-parent, guardian, sibling, step-sibling - who is a member of any union in Vermont.

To apply for the Backus Award, submit 

  • a one-page letter of application (single-spaced) describing your involvement in community service, especially as related to social and/or economic justice causes;
  • documentation of your family member's union affiliation in Vermont (such as a photocopy or scan of a union card);
  • contact information (name, email address, and phone number) for one faculty or community member who can attest to your activities.

Email all application materials to Patti Gannon pgannon@unitedacademics.org

The application deadline for the Backus Award is April 22, 2016. The winner will be selected by the United Academics Scholarship Committee.

Note: All UVM students who apply for the Backus Award will automatically be considered for a Jeffrey Brace Award.

Linda Backus: Special Educator, Advocate, Organizer

Linda Backus had a distinguished career as a special education teacher, administrator, consultant, and scholar. She began her teaching career at the Spring Grove (PA) Area High School, continuing her pedagogic journey at the Pathway School for children with behavior disorders in Norristown where she found her true calling in the field of special education. She moved to Herkimer County, New York where she created treatment programs for individuals with developmental disabilities and helped to establish the New York State Association of Community Residence Directors. Following graduate studies in special education, she became a professor in the Community and Preventative Medicine Department at New York Medical College.
In 1994, she joined the faculty of the University of Vermont and served as a project associate at the UVM Center on Disability. She was a primary organizer of the UVM faculty union, serving as its first vice president, then president, and was instrumental in the drafting of a constitution and the negotiations leading to its first contract. In 2004, the American Association of University Professors awarded her the Georgina Smith Award. She was active in the Ward V Neighborhood Planning Assembly and served on the boards of both United Professions of Vermont and the Champlain Valley Labor Council (AFL-CIO). At the First Congregational Church in Burlington she taught Sunday school and had chaired the church’s mission committee. Her death, at the age of 54, ended the life of an individual who was deeply committed through her educational, labor, political, and religious activities to improving individual lives and the community at large.

Jeffrey Brace Awards

Each year, United Academics awards several $500 Jeffrey Brace scholarships to students with an active commitment to community service, especially in social or economic justice. The awards are named in honor of Jeffrey Brace, an early 19th century black Vermonter, former slave and activist. All currently enrolled UVM students are eligible.

Awards will be made based on demonstrated involvement in community service, especially activities related to social and/or economic justice, in keeping with United Academics' values.

To apply for a Brace Award, submit 

  • a one-page (single-spaced) statement outlining their interest and involvement in community service and social and/or economic justice, and
  • contact information (name, email address, phone number) for one faculty or community member familiar with their activities

Email all application materials to Patti Gannon pgannon@unitedacademics.org

Jeffrey Brace

Born in West Africa, Jeffrey Brace was captured in 1758 by slave traders and eventually sold as a slave in Connecticut. Brace enlisted in the Revolutionary Army in 1777 and fought for American liberty for five years before being honorably discharged and, only then, freed from slavery. Following the war, like many veterans, Brace and his wife moved to the new State of Vermont to take up farming. Virulent racism drove him and his family from their first homestead in Poultney to St. Albans where Brace established a new farm. Brace's struggles for personal and social justice are detailed in one of the earliest biographies of a Black American still in existence. The Special Collections of the University of Vermont contains one of the few copies of this important and rare book, The Blind African Slave.
Jeffrey Brace did not seek out struggles for social justice but neither did he fear them. Although stolen from Africa, he fought for national independence. Although a veteran, a farmer, and a Vermonter, Brace had to continually fight for his rights as a citizen in the country he had helped create. He fought this fight in words, using the courts and the press.

2016 Scholarship Recipients

Linda Backus Memorial Award

Makenzie Roberts

Makenzie Roberts will be a senior at Endicott College, in pursuit of her bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. After internships in Williston, Vermont and Salem, Massachusetts, her passion to teach was confirmed. She is Class of 2017 Secretary for Student Government, and is involved with enriching students' experiences at Endicott College. As a Global Ambassador and Vice President of the Intercultural Club, Makenzie enjoys being open with new acquaintances, reaching out by listening to their stories and sharing hers. She embraces diverse cultures as a natural consequence of being part of a military family, growing up in many communities with diverse ethnicities. Makenzie's motto is: “Consideration of others is an essential part of good character.” When Makenzie isn't working on homework or making new friends, you can find her at the gym on the elliptical, participating in intramural volleyball, or doing Zumba.


David S. Shiman Award

Sameera Ibrahim

Sammie Ibrahim is a graduating senior with degrees in Geography and Political Science from Little Rock, Arkansas. She has spent much of her time at UVM heavily involved with Amnesty International, a global human rights advocacy non-profit, and Students Against Sexual Violence, which advocates for more education and resources around sexual assault on campus. She has also spent much of her time working as a research assistant in the Geography Department, working on various projects related to refugee resettlement in Vermont and campus greening efforts. She would like to personally thank Dr. Pablo Bose and Dr. Ingrid Nelson, among many others, for their continued support in these endeavors over the years.


Jeffrey Brace Awards

Annalena Barrett

Annalena Barrett is a 2016 graduate of the University of Vermont. She majored in Environmental Studies and minored in Global Studies and is deeply committed to sustainability and food justice. During her time at UVM she was heavily involved with the Real Food Challenge, which works to shift university food purchasing towards a just and sustainable food economy. She also worked with Migrant Justice, a nonprofit that focuses on human rights issues in the agricultural sector and was a leader in establishing a student solidarity group on campus called "Juntos" ("together" in Spanish).

Alexis Kelly

Alexis is a sophomore at UVM majoring in Elementary Education and pursuing a dual-licensure in Special Education. Throughout her time at UVM Alexis has been involved with the campus chapter of Oxfam, an international non-profit organization dedicated to righting the wrongs of poverty, hunger, and injustice. Alexis is also involved in the UVM Outing Club, both as a leader of trips and as one of the Social Justice coordinators. Additionally, Alexis works for the Think College program at UVM, where she serves as a mentor for students who have intellectual and developmental disabilities as they strengthen their academic, social, and job-acquisition skills. Over the summer, Alexis teaches sailing on Boston Harbor.

Owen LaFarge

It is a great privilege to be receiving a Jeffrey Brace Award from United Academics! I grew up on Nantucket, MA and since my first few months at UVM have become involved in social and economic justice issues in Burlington. I first became involved in activism in a big way through supporting the CCTA bus driver's strike in 2014, and have since been involved in many social justice campaigns as well as building the International Socialist Organization at UVM. I hope to continue with this work for many years to come. 

Emily Seifert-

I am senior at the University of Vermont graduating with a bachelor’s degree in social work. In September, I will be pursing my master’s degree in social work in an accelerated program at Boston University, with a minor in Macro policy. I will miss volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House, the Boys and Girls Club of Burlington and helping the Committee of Temporary Shelters(COTS) with their fundraising events. I have been involved with the OxFam Club on campus, Mortar Board Akraia Chapter and the Honors College

Anna Lee Tremback-

Anna Lee is a senior at the University of Vermont and is pursuing a dual degree in elementary and special education with a concentration in mathematics.  She has been involved with several organizations on campus including Residential Life, the Honors College, the ALANA community, Alternative Spring Break, and Kappa Delta Pi.  Anna Lee has also attended the following retreats on issues of diversity and social justice: Women of Color Leadership Retreat, Next Step Social Justice Retreat, Racial Aikido Retreat, and the East Coast Asian American Student Union Conference.  She hopes to continue her involvement to promote social justice in her remaining time at the University of Vermont and enhance her teaching ability for the future.

Alice Woodruff

My name is Alice Woodruff, and I am a sophomore from Waterbury, Vermont, majoring in elementary education and seeking a dual endorsement in special education. I am passionate about social justice, and I have volunteered with many organizations in the community. I have volunteered at Burlington’s COTS family shelter and have participated in multiple COTS walks to raise awareness about homelessness. I was also involved with the Special Olympics Unified Sports Team at J.J. Flynn Elementary School in Burlington last spring. I plan to continue working in the community, and make social justice an integral part of my teaching curriculum.


2015 Scholarship Recipients

2014 Scholarship Recipients