Ivy Leaf - Fall 2007

MEPSE: Mentoring for Post Secondary Education


For people living in the Fairview Hills housing complex in Altoona, attending college is a dream many of them never realize. There often are too many obstacles for these residents to overcome in pursuing higher education, especially when it comes to the financial challenges.

But there is something out there designed to change that, and it's already working. Penn State Altoona student Shannon Beaver started the Mentoring for Post Secondary Education (MEPSE) program as part of a work-study project. The program guides participants through the college application and financial aid processes. Scholarships and grants are often secured for the prospective student. Beaver says the program has already helped six people enroll in institutions of higher learning, and each semester more Fairview Hills residents are taking advantage of it.

The program is connected to Penn State and the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Community Outreach Partnership and is fairly inexpensive to run; the ongoing challenge is finding donors and volunteers to keep the program self-sustaining.

One group of volunteers who have pledged to help drive MEPSE to reach more potential students is Penn State Altoona's Alumni Society Board of Directors. Tom Smith, current president of the Alumni Society Board, states, "Each of us has been through this process, and we understand how overwhelming applying to schools and securing funding can be, especially to people who have never been exposed to college.

But we also understand how important these steps are in changing the lives of these individuals. That is why we are committed to helping."