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24 April 2008

Six HACC students chosen as Bucknell Scholars
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 Harrisburg Campus include:

  • Erick Huotari, 27, of York, who is working toward an associate degree in architecture and takes classes at Harrisburg and York campuses.
  • Kojo Karikari, 20, of Harrisburg, who is working toward an associate degree in biology.
  • Perry Schneck, 26, of Harrisburg, who is working toward an associate degree in mechanical engineering.
  • Alpay Yener, 20, of Lemoyne, who is working toward an associate degree in business administration.

HACC students also named scholars and their majors are:

  • Lebanon Campus student Yenis Bestard-Torres, 23, criminal justice;
  • York Campus student Kristin Phillips-Thomas, 38, social sciences.

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 that I can 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 look for a teacher’s assistant position at an Ivy League college where he can pursue a master’s degree in architectural design.

An international student from Ghana, Karikari, did not have the funds to go to a four-year college after high school so he came to HACC. Karikari likes the facilities and the easy access to McCormick Library and resources for research.

“HACC is really competitive and I’m thankful for that - it prepares me for a four-year college,” Karikari said.

Schneck is also appreciative of HACC, when he knew he wanted to get an education but did not know how to pay for it. His brother Kevin Schneck was a recipient of the scholarship last year and told his younger brother how much he loved it. “So I decided to give it a shot,” said Schneck.

Yener, an international student from Istanbul, Turkey, had a fairly easy assimilation into U.S. culture, with two American roommates while he was a student at Istanbul University. Relatives and friends in the area encouraged him to come to HACC where he enrolled this past fall in business administration.

Yener heard about the scholarship program and at first dismissed it - that a college would offer such a program. “Then I told some friends in Canada about it and they were like, ‘you mean Bucknell University in Pennsylvania?’ That’s when I knew this was an excellent opportunity.”

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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