The Nebrasky Foundation, which awards funds to assist Hudson Valley students and residents who may not fit the traditional four-year college model of education or training, has awarded a $1,000 scholarship to Audson Clerge of Newburgh.
Clerge, a 2021 graduate of Newburgh Free Academy, is planning a career in underwater welding. He received glowing letters of recommendation, was active in school and community and will use the scholarship to offset some costs of his schooling while attending Lincoln Tech, which has campuses in Mahwah, N.J., and Queens.
Immigrates from Haiti
Clerge’s path to higher learning began in ninth grade when he moved to the United States from Haiti. With no knowledge of English, Clerge had to learn the language while adjusting to life as a high schooler in America.
“As a kid, I had to witness my mom struggling every day to feed us,” Clerge said. “Oftentimes I ended up going to school without eating breakfast when my mom didn’t have enough to provide. Sometimes, I would get sick, and I couldn’t have access to health care.”
Clerge’s motivation to succeed also came from hearing about his mother’s struggles. Born in the south of Haiti, she was one of six children born to a single mother. Clerge’s mother did not receive a high school education.
This inspired Clerge to find a job after college that would help provide for her. While a student, he worked at Dunkin’ Donuts to save money for his education and family. He is the second member of his family to graduate from high school.
Clerge’s love for welding came from his time at Newburgh Free Academy. Taking a welding class all four years, he found the art of welding fascinating. He crafted numerous projects and made repairs. Clerge also is aware of the increasing need for welders in the workforce.
“There is a great need for welders throughout the United States,” he said. “The infrastructure of bridges, skyscrapers, buildings, towers, airplanes, cars, ships, etc., they all need to be welded. Nothing can be built without skilled welders.”
The Nebrasky Foundation was launched last year by Ilene and Paul Nebrasky with goal of inspiring and building confidence in young adults during an important decision-making time in their lives. The Foundation provides assistance for college, vocational school training and career and technical education, in addition to as-needed assistance for tools for trade schools, uniforms and transportation, among other items.
“Audson has faced tremendous adversity throughout his life. However, it has not stopped him from pursing his goal of becoming an underwater welder,” said Paul Nebrasky, owner of Nebrasky Plumbing, Heating & Cooling. “He demonstrates all the qualities that this award represents: He’s a hard worker who has made a lasting impression on his peers and mentors. We have no doubt that Audson will continue to hone his craft at school and thrive in his future career.”
Funds, awarded as a one-time sum, vary in range, based on need. Applicants, and those selected to receive funding, may reapply for subsequent years.
Applicants must provide a high school transcript or general equivalency diploma equivalent, a personal statement, two letters of recommendation and complete an interview. The selection of award recipients is not based on income or grade-point average standing.
To learn more about, donate or to apply for a Nebrasky Foundation scholarship, which has been established through The Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan, please visit http://cfosny.org/our-funds/scholarships/nebrasky-foundation/.