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November 2013

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Special Event Connects Students with Scholarship and Award Benefactors

Student Benefactor Dinner

The impact of scholarships and awards was the predominate topic of conversation at the fifth Penn State Altoona Student and Benefactor Dinner in early November.

Sponsored by the Office of Development and Alumni Relations and Office of Student Aid, the dinner enables those who benefit from scholarships and awards to personally express their gratitude to those who established these vital forms of financial support. The audience of more than three hundred at the Blair County Convention Center represented a record number of Penn State Altoona benefactors and scholarship recipients.

During a brief program, benefactor Edith Hertzog explained the motivation behind her creation of the March Forth Trustee Scholarship. The scholarship, initiated by Hertzog and co-sponsored by her husband, Mark, and Penn State college roommate Patricia Lankes, is a testament to immeasurable strength and courage, a means of repayment to an institution that had provided opportunity, and a source of inspiration to countless individuals who have battled life’s worst crises and triumphed.

The name of the scholarship reflects Hertzog’s sense of determination and positive outlook. On March 4, 1994, Hertzog received her final chemotherapy treatment for colon cancer. At the time, a friend pointed out that the date offered a wonderful message: “March Forth! Go Forward with Hope.” The selection of a scholarship benefiting Penn State Altoona also was an appropriate act of philanthropy for the Hertzogs. A 1972 Penn State graduate who later earned a Master’s Degree in Adult Education from the University, Hertzog was born and raised in Altoona and began her undergraduate work at Penn State Altoona. Mark Hertzog is a Cambria County native. Both felt compelled to assist Penn State students from their home areas who need scholarships to continue their education. As a former scholarship recipient, Edith Hertzog was well aware of the powerful impact of financial aid.

The Student and Benefactor program also featured Penn State Altoona student Chelsea Laret, a recipient of the Ralph D. McKibbin Family Trustee Scholarship in nursing. Laret told the audience that her dream of a career in nursing is attainable thanks to the financial assistance she receives as a scholarship recipient. Laret graduated this past May with an associate’s degree in nursing. She will receive her bachelor’s degree in nursing this coming May.

Previously, scholarship students had expressed gratitude for their financial assistance through correspondence with the benefactors, but the event provided the first opportunity for one-on-one interaction between many of them. The total number of students in attendance at the dinner increased significantly from previous years thanks to a leadership gift commitment from Altoona residents Stephen G. and Nancy L. Sheetz. The commitment, announced this past spring, created a Trustee Scholarship and scholarship endowment in support of the Sheetz Fellows program.

Each year, in perpetuity, nearly 120 recipients of the Steve and Nancy Sheetz Trustee Scholarship will be awarded a minimum of $1,250 based on financial need. The second endowment, in support of the Sheetz Fellows program established by the couple in 2010, will generate funds enabling Penn State Altoona to provide $5,000 to each Sheetz Fellow in his or her senior year.

Thanks to the generosity of benefactors, Penn State Altoona’s Office of Student Aid awarded scholarships totaling nearly $500,000 to 345 students during the 2012-13 academic year, approximately 9 percent of the student population. During this current academic year, the Office of Student Aid projects that it will award approximately $600,000 to over 400 students.


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