HARRISBURG, Pa. – A photo booth, colorful T-shirts, bubbles, Hula-Hoops, campus tours and food were among the activities at the second annual Harrisburg Promise picnic on Sept. 16, 2017.
Approximately 100 middle-school students and their families from the Harrisburg and Steelton-Highspire school districts participated in the two-hour event held in the Rose Garden at the Harrisburg Campus of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College.
Woven into the fun activities set to the soft background beat of DJ Salsómano G’s music was a life-changing message: “YOUR future is truly our focus.”
The theme was emphasized during brief welcome from HACC President John J. “Ski” Sygielski, Ed.D., and Senghor Manns, CEO of the Harrisburg Housing Authority. Joining them were Sybil Knight-Burney and Travis Waters, superintendents of the Harrisburg and Steelton-Highspire school districts, respectively. Victor Rodgers, HACC associate provost of Workforce Development and Continuing Education, was the emcee.
Sygielski led the crowd in rousing cheers for “HACC! HACC!” as the future for the students enrolled in the Harrisburg Promise, an initiative launched in 2016 to provide pathways to postsecondary education with mentoring and career guidance beginning in seventh grade and throughout high school.
When asked by Sygielski to share some of their future goals, the students listed medical doctor, artist, pediatric surgeon, computer engineer, astronaut, construction, biologist and dentist.
Sygielski said his future was influenced by one teacher who saw something in him beyond the traditional steel-mill jobs in his native Cleveland, Ohio. “If it were not for that teacher, I wouldn’t be here with you today,” Sygielski said. “A zip code does not define who we are. … Education will make that difference,” Sygielski said.
“It is an absolute thrill to be here,” said Manns, adding, “This is a long-term journey, and we’re here to support you.” He noted, however, that parents are the critical part of the equation and congratulated them for supporting their children.
Carmen Santiago, grandmother of 12-year old Mike, beamed with pride throughout the event. “I want a good future for him,” she said. Mike is in seventh grade in the Harrisburg School District.
Cristina, an eighth-grader from the Rowland Academy, signed up for the Harrisburg Promise because she felt it was a “good opportunity to do archeology.” She plans to continue her education for a four-year degree.
Rodgers gave a special thank-you to Joe Porter, an alumnus who was among the first graduates of HACC, for his support with paperweights made by students in HACC’s Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machinist program. Porter supplied the Harrisburg Promise T-shirts for the students.
Students who successfully complete the program may be eligible for a Harrisburg Promise Scholarship through the HACC Foundation. The HACC Foundation has a goal of raising $150,000 by 2020 to establish the Harrisburg Promise Scholarship for students who successfully complete the program and enter HACC as a first-year student.
For additional photos, please visit https://flic.kr/s/aHsm4zqWbW.
For more information on the Harrisburg Promise, please visit www.hacc.edu/HarrisburgPromise.
HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, is the first and largest of Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges. HACC offers over 120 career and transfer associate degree, certificate and diploma programs to approximately 19,000 students. Also, the College serves students at its Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and York campuses; through virtual learning; and via workforce development and continuing education training. For more information on how HACC is uniquely YOURS, visit hacc.edu. Also, follow us on Twitter (@HACC_info), like us on Facebook (Facebook.com/HACC64) and use #HACCNews.
About the HACC Foundation
The HACC Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established in 1985 to raise private and corporate revenues in support of HACC, Central Pennsylvania's Community College. The HACC Foundation provides funding for student scholarships, innovative academic programs, state-of-the art training equipment and modernized facilities. To learn more about the HACC Foundation, please visit haccfoundation.org.