On Oct. 9, Hannah Selassie, a junior marketing major, attended the Penn State Lehigh Valley (PSU-LV) Scholarship Dinner at the Homewood Suite’s Centennial Catering & Conference Center with her mother.
“Scholarships mean a lot because college is very expensive,” Selassie said. “It’s nice to know you have someone investing in you and your education.”
The event, attended by more than 100 students and donors, was held to celebrate students who are recipients of PSU-LV scholarships and express gratitude to the people who donate to PSU-LV scholarships. Selassie received the Patt Family Scholarship.
“I love Penn State Lehigh Valley. I love the small class sizes because professors can give you what you need to do well and they are available to you when you have questions,” Selassie said.
More than 900 students are currently enrolled at the Lehigh Valley campus, and about 70 percent of our degree-seeking students have a financial need; with only 57 percent of their need met by need-based aid. This means students must identify other sources to make up 43 percent to meet the cost of education each year.
“In order to cover the cost of their education, more than 75 percent of our students are working while going to school. In fact, about 20 percent of our students work more than 30 hours per week. The remaining balance is supplemented with personal loans and scholarships,” said Tina Q. Richardson, chancellor of Penn State Lehigh Valley. “Even while juggling these responsibilities, our students are truly committed scholars who are involved on campus and in the community. Both merit and need-based scholarships are so important for students and their success.”
Carolyn Serva, a 1997 Penn State alumna, shared why she stays involved and why she supports students
“I had such great experiences at Penn State. And the Lehigh Valley is my home so Penn State Lehigh Valley is my home campus and provides me a way to connect to students,” said Serva, who has served on the Lehigh Valley Alumni Society Board since 2011. “I work in education myself so it’s all about helping students succeed for me.”
“Thank you to all the donors! I appreciate receiving a scholarship because it helps me further my education.”
-- Andrew Messina a PSU-LV sophomore electrical engineering major and recipient of the Penn State Lehigh Valley General Scholarship.
Julian Brown, a PSU-LV secondary education major, was the first student speaker. He described the financial difficulties he and so many other students face. Brown, who is a first-year student, is a recipient of the Penn State Lehigh Valley Alumni Society First Year Scholarship.
“The biggest difficulties resonate in areas of finance and education as schooling is expensive and seems to be less financially accessible every year. The struggle is real and that is coming from someone who works a full-time job and attends classes as a full-time student,” Brown said. “It brings me great joy to know I am able to continue my education with some of the weight lifted off my shoulders.”
Directly to the donors, Brown said, “I am eternally thankful for all you do and I am here to give thanks not just from me, but all of the students here at Penn State. You make this all possible. You pave the way for my future and so many others. I promise we won’t let you down.”
Justin Honer, a PSU-LV junior information sciences and technology major, was the next student speaker at the event. Honer, who is a veteran, reflected on the importance of scholarships, including being a recipient of the Eugene and Sandra Slaski Scholarship.
“The generous donations given each year make it possible so that students may attend college feeling far less stressed about their financial situation. Many of the student leaders here are only able to dedicate so much of their time to the campus, because of the donors like you, who have dedicated your resources to their success,” Honer said. “They say ‘It takes a village,’ and everyone here has done a wonderful job raising the next generation.”
Phillip St. James, director of campus development at Penn State Lehigh Valley, closed the program by thanking donors.
Scholarships are a priority at the PSU-LV campus to help fill the financial need gap and have become an important initiative of the campaign-- “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence.”
Philanthropic support for Penn State students, faculty, research and programs has always been a part of the University’s foundation. With the continued partnership of alumni and friends, Penn State’s historic mission to serve the public good and create a better future for students, the Commonwealth, and the world can be fulfilled. To learn more about the PSU-LV campaign, visit the PSU-LV Giving page.
The Scholarship Dinner was organized by the Penn State Lehigh Valley Scholarship Dinner Committee, led by the Development Office.