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24 April 2008

Two students from York Campus selected for Bucknell scholarships
Prestigious award pays for a bachelor’s degree

A group of students from HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, is traveling a short distance north this summer to Bucknell University where they each have earned a scholarship through the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

Students selected at HACC’s York Campus include:

  • Erick Huotari, 27, of York, who is working toward an associate degree in architecture and takes classes at the York and Harrisburg campuses.
  • Kristin Phillips-Thomas, 38, of Thomasville, who is working toward and associate degree in social sciences.

HACC students also named scholars and their majors are:

  • Harrisburg Campus students Kojo Karikari, 20, biology; Perry Schneck, 26, mechanical engineering and Alpay Yener, 20, business;
  • Lebanon Campus student Yenis Bestard-Torres, 23, criminal justice.

The six students were recognized at a dinner tonight at the C. Ted Lick Wildwood Conference Center on the Harrisburg Campus of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College. They will participate in a six-week summer program on the university’s Lewisburg Campus, then return to HACC to finish their associate degree, and can transfer to Bucknell for a bachelor’s degree if they so choose.

“This partnership gives our students the chance to explore some options for continuing their college education and to experience a residential school first hand,” said HACC President Edna V. Baehre, Ph.D. “And, it has given Bucknell the chance to experience some of the fantastic students who attend HACC and the other four participating community colleges.”

Noting that Bucknell is the only Pennsylvania university among the eight colleges throughout the nation in this initiative, Baehre told the students, “This puts each of you in an elite group of high achievers who are helping blaze a new path into some of the nation’s most selective four-year schools.”

The Bucknell Scholars program gives these students an opportunity that would not have been financially possible for them, said Dory Leahey, HACC Dean of Retention Services. “These students are change agents with a desire to make a difference in their own lives and lives of others.”

Huotari followed the encouragement of his architecture professor, Kazim Dharsi and applied to the scholarship program.

“I came to HACC after hearing students saying it was a good school and I liked being able to move around (at the different campuses),” said Huotari. “After doing a little bit of everything, I wanted a career. I really enjoy that the classes are small enough to talk to professors.

“I was looking at schools to transfer to after graduating from HACC, and when professor Dharsi mentioned the scholarship, I saw it as a great opportunity.”

Huotari plans to study engineering at Bucknell and then look for a teacher’s assistant position at an Ivy League college where he can pursue a master’s degree in architectural design.

Social sciences major Phillips-Thomas was on the computer one day when she searched HACC’s Web site and discovered it was very easy to enroll. Before long she became a full-time student and wants to keep her momentum going.

“I was scared to death when I went to my first class - a speech class. Then I saw it wasn’t all 18-year-olds. I found that the teachers are great who want to hear from us, the students,” said Phillips-Thomas, who postponed college for 20 years. “It’s what I wanted college to be.

“My oldest is 12 and it seems they’re growing up so fast and “I want to make sure I have something that I can do before they’re all grown up,” Phillips-Thomas said.

Bucknell University, one of eight participating institutions, is a partner with HACC and five other community colleges. The program provides $35,000 to $52,000 a year depending on financial needs. This is the second year scholarships have been awarded.

For more information about the scholarship opportunity contact HACC’s dean’s office of retention services at 717-780-2533.

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