IUPUI Labor Studies student receives a Masarachia Scholarship


Melissa O'Rourke, a student in the Indiana University School of Social Work's Labor Studies Program, has received a Masarachia Scholarship. Masarachia Scholars are eligible for in-state tuition for full-time study plus mandatory fees. The award is renewable for up to four years for scholars who meet program requirements.

In a letter recommending her for the scholarship program, Dr. Paul C. Mishler, an Associate Professor of Labor Studies, wrote, “I have known Ms. O’Rourke since before she recently became a student in the IU Labor Studies Program. Indeed as an activist, myself, in Jobs with Justice in South Bend I met her in the state-wide Jobs with Justice programs and activities and knew her to be one of the sharpest and most dedicated of activists.”

O’Rourke decided to finish her degree and enrolled in the Labor Studies program at IUPUI. Dr. Mishler noted that when he looked into the Masarchia Scholarship program he realized it was designed for students like O’Rourke. “It is not simply that Melissa is an activist who wants a college degree, although she does,” Dr. Mishler wrote. “It is that her activism is already informed by the desire, and need, and ongoing practice of theoretical critical reflection that both the university and the social justice activist community needs so desperately.”

The Sam Masarachia Scholars Program prepares students for active roles in society by putting the knowledge acquired in the classroom to work for grassroots organizations fighting for social justice. In addition to small seminars on working class history, contemporary social issues, and the theory and practice of organizing, scholars complete two internships with local organizations, including labor unions and senior citizen or community groups.

The scholarship is name for Sam Masarachia, the second of eight children from an immigrant coal mining family in Clinton, Indiana. Masarachia quit high school to help provide for the family after they moved to Indianapolis, hiring in at a saw manufacturing plant. In 1937, he and his coworkers organized a union that negotiated a pay raise, paid holidays, vacations, insurance coverage, and a grievance procedure for employees. The victory convinced Sam of the power of organizing, and he went to work for the Steelworkers Union.

Sam served his country in World War II, earning four bronze stars in combat in Europe.

When he retired from the Steelworkers in 1968, Sam didn't stop organizing people to fight for social justice. He organized neighbors in Fountain Square and helped to found a senior citizen center that today bears his name. Sam was also a founding member of United Senior Action, Indiana's premier senior advocacy organization, and one of the groups that scholars have an opportunity to intern with.

The Masarachia Scholars are a living tribute to Sam's dedication to labor, senior, and community organizing.

Applicants who will join the program as first-year students should:

  • Have SAT scores of at least 1000 or an ACT of 21
  • Be admitted to IUPUI by February 1
  • Intend to enroll on a full-time basis

Continuing student applicants should:

  • Have at least two full years remaining prior to graduation
  • Have a GPA of at least 3.0
  • Be admitted to IUPUI by February 1
  • Intend to enroll on a full-time basis

For more information about the Masarachia Scholarship:  http://liberalarts.iupui.edu/masarachia/