Updated: Apr 28
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.”