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NEA-Retired Honors Two Student Members with Scholarships

Jack Kinnaman’s legacy continues to give

Jack Kinnaman, former NEA-Retired vice president and former Advisory Council member of NEA-Retired, was a beloved member of the NEA family and someone who cared deeply about students, especially those future teachers facing financial hardship in pursuit of their teaching degrees. Each year, in his honor, NEA-Retired members award the Jack Kinnaman Memorial Scholarship to help outstanding NEA Student Program members complete their education.

The 2015 Kinnaman Scholarship award winners were James MacGregor, a senior at Youngstown State University, and president of the Youngstown Student Education Association (YSEA), and Hannah Pawlak, who is completing a master’s degree in special education at The College of New Jersey where she also earned her bachelor’s degree. Pawlak is also president of the New Jersey Student Education Association (NJSEA). Each received a $2,000 scholarship during the NEA-Retired Annual Meeting in Orlando. MacGregor and Pawlak have been active in their respective local, state, and national Associations and held top leadership positions. They also contribute to their communities as volunteers.

To the judges, these winners also stood out for how they’ve been able to tackle and overcome great personal obstacles in their pursuit of higher education and a career in teaching.

For Pawlak, earning an advanced degree, a state requirement to teach special education in New Jersey, further saddled her financially. With her Kinnaman Scholarship, Pawlak, who has paid her way through college, says she can take a little reprieve from the “five jobs” she “works seven days a week while in school full time.”

Looking forward, adds Pawlak, “This scholarship money personally motivates me to continue to work hard for NJSEA.”

Like Pawlak, MacGregor has taken on the looming cost of college by himself. That is on top of challenges he also faced at home. After MacGregor lost his father at a young age, his life seemed to tumble. For a time, the student slipped into homelessness, but courageously stepped up to raise his younger brother by himself.

“You can’t be afraid to work hard. If you do, then everything will fall into place,” says MacGregor. He was also awarded the 2015 Outstanding Local Student Leader Award. Looking back, MacGregor adds: “I could have never imagined how far I would come from joining a group [YSEA] in college.”

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