Alle-Kiski Alumni Society awards $3,200 in scholarships to two campus students
LAUREN RICHARDS AND BRANDI RITENOUR
AKS Awarded $36,000 since 1998
The Alle-Kiski Society of the Penn State Alumni Association awarded $3,200 in scholarships recently to two Penn State New Kensington students, Lauren Richards of Pittsburgh and Brandi Ritenour of Murrysville, Pa.
The society's scholarship is funded through the proceeds of the annual alumni golf tournament. In August, the tournament raised a record $9,400 as 83 alumni and friends participated in the 13th annual scramble at the Links at Spring Church.
Richards, a senior information science and technology major, carries a 3.35 grade-point average. She is active in numerous extra-curricular activities, including serving as chair of the campus THON committee that in February raised $50,467 for the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) that benefits the Four Diamonds Fund and the fight against pediatric cancer. The total is the second best in campus history, topped only by $52,392 that was collected in 2011.
Richards also served as president of the Lion Ambassadors, a student organization found on every campus of Penn State. Their mission is to serve the University, the student body and alumni by acting as representatives of the University. She was named Lion Ambassador of the Year and received the Community Service award at the Academic and Student Achievement Awards ceremony in April. Community service is a part of her genetic make-up.
After final exams in May, she participated in a campus- and Rotary-sponsored trip to South Dakota where 14 New Kensington students, faculty and staff installed computers at a women’s shelter and a children’s home, spent time with children at a Native American school and learned about the history and culture of the area.
Ritenour is a sophomore electro-mechanical engineering technology major in the Honors program. Last semester, she was honored with a President’s Freshman Award that is reserved for first-year students who earn a 4.0 GPA. She is a member of two student organizations, Engineering Club and Society of Women Engineers.
In addition to her studies, she serves as a mentor in the FIRSTE (Females Interested in Reaching for Science, Technology and Engineering) program and math assistant in the SPACE (Summer Preparation for Academics in the College of Engineering) program.
FIRSTE is a two-day summer program that targets ninth through 11th-grade girls considering careers in science, technology or engineering. Designed to provide young women with information on their options in what are considered to be traditionally male-oriented fields, the program annually welcomes about a dozen students to the New Kensington campus where they learn about topics such as robotics and microbiology.
SPACE a two-week preparatory program for incoming freshmen that is tailored to engineering students. The program includes classes in pre-calculus, chemistry, physics, and English, as well as workshops on study skills and course scheduling strategies. The class sessions are designed to strengthen the skills, knowledge, and experience of those seeking to major in engineering. Peer mentoring and networking with current students helps ease the transition from high school to college.
The two students were chosen for the scholarships based on their academic status (sophomore, junior, senior), cumulative GPAs (3.0 minimum), county of residency (Allegheny Armstrong, Butler or Westmoreland), and an essay question (Why do you feel alumni are willing to give back to the New Kensington campus, and how do you feel you will give back after graduation?). In their essays, both highlighted the intimate setting of a small campus as a positive learning experience that would encourage them to stay connected to the campus after graduation.
“After a year at Penn State Erie, I enrolled at Penn State New Kensington because it was close to home,” said Richards, who is also an orientation leader. “It was one of the best decisions I could have made. I came to realize that this campus had the passion of the students and staff, their dedication and devotion to learning, school pride, and each other, and the close, family-like atmosphere.”
“At the New Kensington campus, students are given great educations, as well as extra-curricular opportunities,” said Ritenour, a student assistant in the Academic Affairs office. “I know that my experiences on campus have been positive, encouraging, and life-changing. I’ve met some of the best friends, and my learning experience has been very promising, as I feel extremely prepared for my future career. As a small campus, New Kensington is very close-knit, and students are able to get to know almost all of their fellow students and faculty. I know that all of my professors know my name and always are willing to make time to meet with me. This is an advantage that you can’t always get with other colleges.”
Since 1998, the society has awarded $36,000 to 45 campus students. The amount awarded is expected to rise dramatically in the next few years as the alumni group increases its endowment level by 50 percent, from $51,000 to $76,000 by 2014. The philanthropic action was a response to a request by Roger Williams, executive director of the Penn State Alumni Association, for local alumni chapters and campus societies to accelerate the growth of their individual endowments during the University's fundraising effort, "For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students." Endowed gifts are held by the University in perpetuity. The initial gift is invested and only a portion of the average annual investment return is spent. The remaining income is added to the principal as protection against inflation.
The society's scholarship was established in 1992 with an initial principal of $15,000. Six years later, it was fully endowed at $25,000. In addition to scholarships, the society sponsors a variety of campus activities throughout the year, including an alumni tent at the Fall Festival.
Penn State alumni and friends are encouraged to re-connect with the University and campus by attending the Alle-Kiski Society meetings that are held at 6:30 p.m. on the third Monday of each month. The next meeting is Oct. 15 in the campus Conference Center.
For more about the Alle-Kiski Society, contact Bill Woodard, firstname.lastname@example.org
AKS SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS