Arwa Mukhtar is enrolled as a full- time student at Penn State studying for a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with a minor in Environmental Engineering. Arwa has volunteered in cancer facilities both as a research assistant and with patient care. She has also helped with Special Olympics. When she graduates she would like to pursue a graduate degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Arwa received the AAUW State College Branch Scholarship.
Gwyneth Nowack-Greene is enrolled at Penn State as a part-time student studying for a Bachelor of Science in General Science. After graduating she would like to pursue a masters degree to do research into environmental applications of advanced materials. Gwyneth is a single mother of a 5 year old daughter. She volunteers in her daughter's school. Gwyneth received the Evelyn Chostner Marboe Scholarship.
Lisa Sharer is enrolled at South Hills School of Business and Technology as a full-time student studying for a degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Lisa is the single parent of her young son. She volunteers at her church and in the community. This year Lisa has given several hours volunteering at the AAUW Used Book Sale. She is looking forward to graduating and securing a position in the medical field as an ultrasound technician. Lisa was awarded the Suzanne McCrae Kerlin Scholarship.
Niloofar (Nellie) Yasdanibi
Niloofar (Nellie) Yasdanibi is a full-time student at Penn State studying for a Bachelor of Science degree in Information and Technology. Niloofar lives with her husband and young daughter. She works at the Commons Desk Operations using her love for technology to help other students. She is interested in developing opportunities specifically for women in technology. Niloofar would like to work in the Information Science and Technology field with special interest in database, web design and application dev! elopment. She received the Simmons-Jansma Project Renew Grant.
Lauren Davidson - Evelyn Marboe Scholarship
Lauren is enrolled at Penn State University as a full-time student studying for degrees in Sociology and Spanish. She volunteers in Bellefonte, and would like to work in a field of behavioral therapy, specializing in Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Veronica Landron - AAUW State College Branch Scholarship
Veronica is a new mother pursuing a degree at Penn State in Architecture. She has overcome several difficulties during her university career but is determined to become a licensed architect upon graduation.
LaToya McGriff - Suzanne McCrae Kerlin Scholarship
LaToya is a full-time student at Penn State student studying Early Childhood Education. She and her husband have two children and they like to volunteer in the community. She is a paraprofessional in the school district but dreams of having her own classroom one day.
Lisa Sharer - Simmons-Jansma Project Renew Grant
Lisa is enrolled at South Hills School of Business and Technology as a full-time student studying for a degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Lisa is the single parent of her 11-year old son. She works part time and volunteers at her church as a Sunday school teacher. She hopes to become an ultrasound technician.
Congratulations to the three local women receiving AAUW State College Branch scholarships for returning adult women students: Courtney McChesney, Hyejin Sung, Audrey Tallon.
Courtney graduated from Phillipsburg-Osceola Area High School and now lives with her 3 year old son in Pleasant Gap. Earlier in her life, due to unfortunate family circumstances, Courtney was assigned sole custody of her 2 younger sisters during which time she worked at St Paul's Christian Preschool. She is enrolled at Penn State University in Human Development and Family Studies. Courtney would ultimately like to work with children whose parents are chronically or terminally ill. She has received the Simmons-Jansma Project Renew Grant.
Hyejin is originally from Korea. She came to the U.S. as an exchange student to a high school in Idaho. She started college in America, but returned to Korea to help her family out her family. Her American college experience has been interrupted three times. She is now in State College with her husband, enrolled at Penn State University studying Sociology. Hyejin's goal is to work with teenagers who have emotional and behavioral issues. Hyejin will receive the Suzanne McCrae Kerlin Scholarship.
Aubrey is a graduate of Bellefonte Area High School and is currently enrolled as a full- time student at Penn State University in the College of Health and Human Development. Her area of study is Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Management. Aubrey hopes to educate the public about biodiversity, stewardship, and preservation of our natural spaces. Upon graduation she hopes to earn a doctorate in the RPTM field. Aubrey will receive the AAUW State College Branch Scholarship.
Pictured left to right: Lucy Hall, Michelle Miller, Lenna Neff, and Elizabeth Timblin.
Elizabeth is a Penn State student who lives in Pleasant Gap with her two young children. She is enrolled in the Eberly College of Science, majoring in biotechnology with a clinical science option.
Elizabeth originally applied to Penn State immediately following her graduation from Bald Eagle Area High School; however, due to financial reasons, she was unable to attend. Following advice from family, she obtained an associate's degree in accounting, which has enabled her to work part time using her accounting skills. However, she knew that she really wanted a four-year degree in science.
Elizabeth has been taking courses part time since 2009 to obtain that degree, and plans to graduate in August 2016. During her enrollment, Elizabeth has dealt with many personal issues, but despite these issues has managed to have an excellent academic record.
We are proud to support Elizabeth with the Evelyn Marboe Scholarship for the third year.
Lucy is originally from Peru and came to the United States when she was a teenager. She worked very hard to learn English so she could pursue her dream of becoming a teacher. She had numerous jobs including a position with Penn State Extension. It is in that job that she met her husband, and they are now the parents of three children. She worked and took courses part time at Harrisburg Area Community College.
After earning an associate's degree, she began taking courses at Penn State Harrisburg, the Capital College. In 2013, they moved to State College because her husband was offered an opportunity to pursue a doctorate in entomology.
Lucy is enrolled in the College of Education in the elementary education program and anticipates graduating in 2016. She hopes one day become an ESL teacher.
Lucy has performed a great deal of community service. Two examples are providing free instruction in Spanish to neighborhood children and college students and volunteering at a local food bank.
Lucy is the recipient of the Suzanne McCrae Kerlin Scholarship.
Michele lives in Bellefonte and is enrolled at South Hills School of Business & Technology. She is studying business administration and is in the accounting program.
Michele enrolled at Lock Haven University immediately following high school, but she excelled at a part-time job at Walmart and work became her priority. She left school at the end of her freshman year and advanced at Walmart. After just four years, she became an assistant manager. Through her position at Walmart, Michele became involved in Relay for Life and continues to contribute to this cause.
She decided that it was time to return to her education and enrolled at South Hills in fall 2014. At the end of the fall term, she had made the Dean's list. She will complete her associate's degree in June 2016 and then hopes to move into a position in the accounting field and eventually earn a baccalaureate degree.
Michele will receive the Simmons-Jansma Project Renew Grant.
Lenna is a graduate of Bald Eagle Area School District and currently enrolled as a part-time student at Penn State. She enrolled at Penn State following high school, but left school in her junior year due to financial issues.
She is married and she and her husband have two adopted children. Their 19-year-old son lives at home and has special needs.
In 2013, Lenna decided to return to school and quickly completed an associate's degree. This degree provided her with the credentials to secure a position at Penn State. She is enrolled in the College of Education in the rehabilitation and human services program and anticipates completing her degree in 2016.
Lenna is a certified EMT and has volunteered for ten years with the local emergency service. She has seen the effects of trauma. That and the need to be an advocate for her son have shaped her career goals.
Lenna will receive the State College Branch Scholarship.
Pictured left to right: Heather Hall, Elizabeth Timblin, and Jennifer Gilbert.
Heather Ann Hall Heather is a single mother with a 16-year-old son who lives in Bellefonte. She is currently enrolled at South Hills School of Business & Technology pursuing an associate in specialized technology degree----diagnostic medical sonography. She is originally from Nebraska and served in the U.S. Army where she was in military intelligence. After being employed as a civilian intelligence analyst with defense contractors for 15 years, Heather found herself without a job. She made the decision to go back to school and earn a degree in the medical field.
Heather is heavily involved with Women's Leadership Group through the Centre County United Way, the American Red Cross, the Wounded Warrior Project, and many other groups. Heather is receiving the Suzanne McCrae Kerlin Scholarship.
Elizabeth Timblin Elizabeth is the single mother of two young children, a Penn State student, and current recipient of the Evelyn Marboe Scholarship. She is enrolled in the Eberly College of Science, majoring in biotechnology with a clinical science option. Elizabeth originally enrolled at Penn State immediately following her graduation from Bald Eagle Area High School; however, due to financial reasons, she was unable to attend. Following advice from family, she obtained an associate degree in accounting, which has enabled her to work part-time using her accounting skills, but she knew she really wanted a four-year degree in science. Elizabeth has been taking courses part time since 2009 to obtain that degree.
The AAUW State College awarded Elizabeth the Evelyn Marboe Scholarship for a second year.
Jennifer Gilbert Jennifer is the mother of a 4-year-old boy and works full time at Penn State in the College of Earth & Mineral Science's meteorology department as an administrative support coordinator where she oversees research grants. In 2006, she took a philosophy course, earned an A and has continued taking courses on a part-time basis ever since. She is now pursuing a B.A. degree in sociology and expects to graduate in 2016.
Jennifer is involved in organizations within and outside of work, including THON, Toys for Tots, and chairing the College of Earth and Mineral Science's United Way committee for 2014. She also volunteers with the RSVP pen pal program and writes to a Bald Eagle Area elementary student. Jennifer is receiving the State College Branch Scholarship.
Pictured left to right: Janelle Wheatley, Leslie Sotomayor, Karen Dunlap, and Elizabeth Timblin.
Elizabeth Timblin of Pleasant Gap has been awarded the Evelyn Chostner Marboe AAUW State College Branch Scholarship. She is working on a Bachelors of Science Degree in biotechnology leading to a career in research and development at a children’s hospital. Elizabeth’s first foray into post-secondary education took her to South Hills School of Business & Technology where she earned an associate’s degree in accounting. Her passion though is working in the sciences so she entered Penn State in 2009. With two children, Elizabeth mixes family time with study time as she strives to meet her goals.
Janelle Wheatley of Pine Grove Mills has been awarded the Simmons-Jansma Project Renew Grant. She is working on a Bachelor’s Degree in Rehabilitation Human Services and anticipates going on for her Master’s Degree. After her delay in education, she is now anxious to get through her schooling in five years. She plans on working as a counselor for the Department of Corrections. Janelle is a returning adult student who has had many life experiences impacting her career decisions. Janelle currently mentors elementary school youth with homework and afterschool activities.
Leslie Sotomayor of State College has been awarded the Suzanne McCrae Kerlin AAUW State College Branch Scholarship. She is working on a Bachelor’s Degree in Women’s Studies and Fine Arts. She plans on working toward her Ph.D. to become a university professor. Leslie started her post-secondary work at East Stroudsburg University. When she came to Penn State in 2009, she had decided to be an artist. Leslie has had the opportunity to show her art in several exhibitions on campus and off. To her, art is a second language. She is currently a McNair Scholar.
Karen Dunlap of State College has been awarded the AAUW State College Branch Scholarship. She is working on an Associate’s Degree in Human Development and Family Studies. She plans to work in the field of counseling. Karen started her post-secondary career at South Hills School of Business & Technology. While striving to reach her educational goals, Karen works full time and pursues her degree in the evening. She has been on the Dean’s List several times. Karen is a first-generation college student striving toward a degree in a field that will challenge her.
Pictured left to right: Annalisa Barron, Amie Lyons, and Tina Baronio. Jessica Pavliska is not pictured.
Annalisa Barron –Simmons-Jansma scholarship award.
Annalisa Barron lives in Pine Grove Mills and is seeking a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. She started her college career in the state of Washington, and then did an internship with the Forerunner Music Academy in Kansas City. Upon its completion, she returned to State College, attended Penn State full time for one semester, and then returned to the Forerunner Music Academy, only to re-enroll at Penn State, upon learning that Forerunner was not accredited.
In addition to her studies, Annalisa has served as language partner for international students, worked with the Community Arts Collective, and is active with Groundswell for community and environmental rights. She has had several art exhibitions, and recently showed in the International Student Print Show in El Minia, Egypt. Annalisa is receiving the Simmons-Jansma scholarship award.
Amie Lyons –Suzanne McCrae Kerlin scholarship
Amie is a Penn State student, majoring in Recreation, Park and Tourism Management. The option she is taking within her major is Community and Commercial Recreation Management. She teaches Sunday School, and works thirty hours a week with the Department of Education in FedLoan Servicing. In her free time, Amie enjoys camping, reading, and playing sports.
After graduation, Amie plans to work with a non-profit agency, where she will utilize the education attained at Penn State. Amie is receiving the Suzanne McCrae Kerlin scholarship.
Tina Baronio – AAUW State College Branch scholarship
Tina lives in Clarence and is seeking an associate’s degree in criminal justice from South Hills School of Business & Technology. Tina began her post-secondary education about 13 years after graduating from high school. She initially enrolled in Kaplan University to take online courses in psychology. Although doing very well, Tina had to take a break from her studies to support family members.
Tina is now back in school. She would like to eventually pursue a degree in forensic psychology. She is involved in the Community Outreach and Public Services Club and volunteers for the Mountaintop Area Swimming Pool Association. Tina is receiving the AAUW State College Branch scholarship.
Jessica Pavliska –Evelyn Marboe scholarship
Jessica lives in State College and is seeking a BS degree in biological anthropology. She uses several loans to finance her education. She has a position as a work study student.
Jessica initially started school in 2004 at the University of Oklahoma. Without support from her family, it was difficult to pursue a post-secondary education. She worked full time until she was old enough to be declared independent.
In 2009, Jessica enrolled at Penn State. Jessica volunteers at America Reads, partnering with the Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania and the YMCA. She also volunteers at Shaver’s Creek. Jessica enjoys rock climbing and spends a portion of her time with children, teaching them to climb, too. Jessica is receiving the Evelyn Marboe scholarship.
Pictured left to right: Alison Franklin, Rae Ellen Devier and Grace Hakizimana. Joan Robbins is not pictured..
Rae Ellen Devier – Evelyn Chostner Marboe Scholarship
The recipient of the Evelyn Chostner Marboe AAUW Branch Scholarship is Rae Ellen Devier, a psychology major pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree with a neuroscience option. Rae Ellen’s long-range career goals include obtaining a Ph.D in Clinical Psychology and subsequently establishing a program for young adults who have aged out of the foster care system.
Several years prior to turning 18, Rae Ellen lived independently due to difficult family circumstances. She became pregnant during her senior year in high school. Rae Ellen discovered shortly after her son’s third birthday that he has Asperger’s syndrome, and she subsequently became involved with Easter Seals of Central Pennsylvania. After volunteering and fundraising for Easter Seals, Rae Ellen began to question her career decisions noting that “the job that I was performing was not making a positive contribution to someone’s life.”
In their letters of recommendation, Rae Ellen’s Penn State professors speak of her ability to balance her studies as a full-time student with the responsibilities of being a mother to three young children. They write that she brings maturity, critical thinking, diligence and engagement to her studies. This Dean’s List student who is committed to making her immediate world a better place is a worthy recipient of the Marboe Scholarship.
Grace Hakizimana – Simmons-Jansma Project Renew Grant
Grace Hakizimana, the 2011-12 Simmons-Jansma Project Renew recipient, is a survivor from the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Following high school graduation in 1998, she abandoned her dreams to attend college because she lacked any family support, financial aid didn’t exist in Rwanda, and she spent years living for brief periods with families of friends or at a youth hostel. In 2003, she came to the U.S., but her dream to pursue higher education was put on hold until she obtained refugee status and learned to speak English. A single mother since 2005, she took minimum wage jobs, learned to speak English, and was admitted to Penn State in fall 2007 in order to make a better future for her son and herself. Her adviser wrote that Grace is on the Dean’s List more often than not and her GPA would be higher were it not for recurring bouts of illness. She is a Human Development and Family Studies major who has volunteered and worked in the Global Connections office. In 2008, Grace received the Women’s Opportunity Award from Soroptimist International of Centre County, which assists single mothers who are students. In 2009, she applied for and was granted permanent entry status in the United States.
Alison Franklin – State College Branch AAUW Scholarship
Described by her academic adviser as one of the most inspiring students he has encountered in seven years of teaching and an excellent role model, Alison Franklin is pursuing a degree in Toxicology in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. From the age of 15, she struggled with eating disorders, which sabotaged her first enrollment at Penn State and caused her to withdraw in 2003. She credits her husband whom she met in 2005 with changing her life. They married; Alison received professional help for her disorder and became the mother of two girls now four and three, who also gave her a new perspective on life. She volunteers with the local Freecycle group, PAWS animal shelter, her church, and the Branch’s CSI program among others. In summer 2009, Alison returned to Penn State via academic renewal studying initially as a part-time student. With an AAUW Scholarship she enrolled full time in fall 2010 and maintains a 3.96 GPA while taking some of the most challenging science courses at the University. With degrees in environmental chemistry/toxicology, Alison plans “to work in chemical and environmental evaluation, regulation and control.” She is specifically interested in water quality analysis, an area in which she has conducted research and written reports.
Joan Ribbons – State College Branch AAUW Scholarship
Working hard to complete her bachelor’s degree in nursing, Joan is a second year scholarship recipient. With her four children almost completely independent, Joan wished to resume her career but found her diploma RN education limiting. She currently serves as the president of the Adult Learners at Penn State (ALPS) Club and is working to establish a lounge for ALPS and to
help build a campus community at University Park for students aged 24-60. Through her position as president of ALPS, Joan is part of the Vice President for Student Affairs Student Roundtable.
Planning to work in community health, Joan hopes to teach families and individuals with disabilities to incorporate leisure activities into their lives. Joan plans to use gardening and exercise as tools to give to her patients and has added Kinesiology as a minor this semester. As a volunteer with People Centre’D on Diabetes, Joan has worked on raising diabetes awareness in our community after hearing about the organization in one of her nutrition classes.
Joan’s professors are enthusiastic in recommending her for an AAUW scholarship. She ranked in the top 5% of students in a Biobehavioral Health class and also served as a mentor to other students through her leadership skills.
Pictured left to right: Elizabeth Crossen, Shanna Servant, Joan Robbins, and Alison Franklin.
Joan Ribbons - Evelyn Chostner Marboe Scholarship
Joan Ribbons suspended her career as a full-time RN in 1980 to raise her four children; she became a single parent in 1994. With her children almost completely independent, she wishes to resume her career, but finds her diploma RN education limiting. She will be pursuing a bachelor of science in nursing and then probably a master's degree. As a nurse she learned that stress is a major cause of poor health and quality of life, so would like to work in community health, teaching families and individuals to incorporate leisure activities into their lives, eventually improving their health. Joan is especially interested in working with military families and people with disabilities. She was not idle during her period of child-raising, however. She continued to work in nursing in whatever community she found herself and volunteered extensively in each community. One of her professors writes: "I admire Joan's perseverance in returning to school after such a long layoff, but even more, I admire her dedication to public service and public health. Without question, Joan will make the most of an AAUW grant – and return the benefits of her education to the community." Joan will receive the Evelyn Chostner Marboe AAUW–State College Branch Scholarship.
Elizabeth Crossen - Simmons-Jansma Project Renew Grant
Elizabeth Crossen is the recipient of the Simmons-Jansma Project Renew Grant. As the young mother of two young sons, she is pursuing a double major in women’s studies and sociology and hopes to continue her education, eventually serving the needs of underprivileged women and children and LGBT youth. Becoming pregnant as a teen, she withdrew from high school and earned her GED. Feeling isolated from her peers, Liz organized two groups for parents: a local-foods potluck group and an attachment-parenting group. She became interested in women's healthcare, particularly midwifery. After attending a workshop on midwifery apprenticeship programs, she attended and assisted in more than 50 births as the assistant of a local midwife. She spoke to Penn State classes on homebirth and her role as a midwife’s assistant. She did all this as a volunteer until the birth of her second son, and continues even today to speak to Penn State classes. When her relationship with the boys father disintegrated, she had to find work that paid. Lacking confidence, she did not consider attending college at first, but long hours, low pay, the encouragement of others, and a tradition in her family of strong, educated women finally made her take the step to begin courses at Penn State.
Alison Franklin and Shanna Servant - State College Branch AAUW Scholarship
Alison Franklin is pursuing a degree in toxicology in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State. From the age of 15, she struggled with eating disorders. Upon graduation from high school she was determined to start over with her new life in college, but proved unable to handle the new stresses and slipped back into the old destructive pattern. Naturally her grades suffered and she withdrew, finally, in 2003. She married, received professional help for her disorder and is now the mother of two young daughters, who gave her a new focus and perspective on life. She volunteers at Schlow Library, the local Freecycle group, and PAWS animal shelter among others. With the strong support of her husband and her church, she overcame her emotional issues, became a successful part-time student and will return to full-time study in the fall of 2010. She explains her dedication to a meaningful long-term career in research: "I chose toxicology because I desire to make the world a safer place. Chemicals are now an integral part of almost every facet of life. For the wellbeing of life on this planet, we should know exactly how these chemicals affect humans, animals, and the environment."
After attending Shippensburg University for two years, Shanna Servant became engaged to a longtime boyfriend, returned to State College, and began working at the Village at Penn State, eventually becoming a therapeutic recreational assistant. During a two-year period, she experienced the loss of her father and then her mother. It was during her mother's illness that Shanna’s engagement was broken off and she gave birth to her son. After her mother's death in 2008, Shanna no longer had the safety net that parents provide. Further, funeral and nursing home expenses had consumed the family's assets. Realizing that she was the safety net for her son, she set out to give herself the means to provide for him in the future and enrolled at Penn State. One of her references offers this about Shanna: "Shanna is a shining example. She volunteers regularly, holds a steady job, is a single mom, does very well academically, and is a person of passion, commitment and integrity. She is motivated by serving others and making the world a better place." Clearly, Shanna has distinguished herself in many ways as she pursues her degree in Therapeutic Recreation from the College of Health and Human Development
Pictured left to right: Jana Rohrbach, Valerie Saunders, Laura Swinyer and Erin Crown.
Laura Swinyer - Evelyn Chostner Marboe AAUW - State College Branch Scholarship
Laura, also last year's Marboe winner, plans to graduate in 2010. She is the single parent of a sixteen year-old daughter who was born facing many challenges. Laura is a major in Communications Advertising and Public Relations with plans to enter law school. This year Laura was thrilled to be accepted into the Legal Environment of Business (LEBUS) minor in the Smeal School of Business. During law school Laura plans to train in the public service area of American Civil Liberties law so that she can build and restore doctor/patient relationships and bridge the gaps between the internal and external stakeholders of health care institutions. Having a history of advocating for her daughters health care needs led Laura to serve on various government agencies at the local, state and federal level. She currently volunteers as a special education consultant for a kindergarten student in the Bellefonte Area School District and serves on the PA Office of Medical Assistance Advisory Committee evaluating program quality and outcomes for PA residents served by the ACCESS Plus, PA State division of medical care. In Laura's own words "embracing adversity offers unexpected opportunities and valuable learning experiences."
Erin Crown - Simmons-Jansma Project Renew Grant
Simmons-Jansma winner Erin Crown, a single mother of three daughters, is a full-time student at Lock Haven University where she is a Health Science major with an emphasis in the Pre-Physicians Assistant track. She will complete her Bachelor of Science degree in 2011 and plans to enter a Physician Assistant Professional Program upon graduation. Erin volunteers at Centre Hall-Potter Elementary School and Grace Prep High School and works part-time at Pro-Care Physical Therapy in Centre Hall. An in-home daycare business, serving her church as volunteer Director of Children's Ministries, running a Vacation Bible School which raised over $500 to send to an inner-city youth center, constructing gift baskets for the hospital to distribute to new mothers in Penns Valley, working for a home health agency caring for elderly individuals at night and establishing a painting business have certainly kept Erin busy. In Erin's words she "shares with AAUW a similar vision to be a powerful advocate and a visible leader in the lives of my daughters so that they will be powerful advocates and visible leaders in the lives of the children they currently encounter of a daily basis, and the lives of women and girls that they encounter throughout their lifetime."
Jana Rohrbach and Valerie Saunders - State College Branch AAUW Scholarship
The State College Branch AAUW Scholarship winners are Jana Rohrbach and Valerie Saunders.
Jana Rohrbach is also a repeat winner from last year. In addition to being a mother of six, Jana is a junior at Penn State majoring in Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Health and Human Development and specializing in Family Relationships. Jana volunteers at the Women's Resource Center as well as with the new Safe Exchange Center established after the recent murder of a local woman by her former spouse while exchanging their child. With her degree Jana writes that she plans to work as a crisis counselor using her life experiences and education "to reach out to women who find themselves living in dire circumstances; to lift them up and out through empathy, determination, and education."
Valerie Saunders is a Penn State student who is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in the College of Health and Human Development with a major in Health and Human Development. Valerie is a single mother of four children who had her first child at the age of fifteen. After having another child during her senior year in High School she dropped out and eventually lived on welfare, eating and sleeping in shelters. Enrollment in a drug rehabilitation program and completing a twelve-step program enabled Valerie to begin a fresh start and she enrolled in Penn State. Helping the elderly at a nursing home, volunteering at the local food bank, mentoring at State College Area High School and assisting elementary school children with their homework are Valerie’s volunteer activities. Valerie would like to obtain a Master’s degree in Psychology so that she can help others by becoming a Drug and Alcohol counselor and writes that “this grant will help me by fulfilling my dream to help others who are experiencing the same obstacles that I went through."
Pictured left to right: Carol "Buffy" Holt, Laura Swinyer, Jana Rohrbock, and Centrice Martin.
Laura Swinyer - Evelyn Chostner Marboe AAUW - State College Branch Scholarship
Laura Swinyer is a student in the College of Communications and would like to obtain a master's degree from the Dickinson School of Law Public Policy Program. In Laura's own words she intends "to labor for an American health care reform that streamlines patient safety codes and strengthens the three cornerstones of health care: costs, quality and access." A single mother with a disabled daughter, Laura is a dedicated volunteer who founded the Family Connection of Central PA, Inc., a grassroots advocacy group for disabled students. The State College Area School District Special Education Department has contracted with Family Connection to have Laura conduct parent training on changes regarding federal legislation, parent’s rights and supports for students with disabilities. Certainly Laura is a perfect fit for the Marboe award.
Jana Rohrbach - Simmons-Jansma Project Renew Grant Scholarship
Jana Rohrbach is the mother of six children. Her passion is to obtain an education in order to assist struggling women and children in crisis. Jana writes that she plans to use her degree in Health and Human Development "to encourage women to become independent and empowered through education." Upon completion of her degree, Jana hopes to work as a Crisis Counselor and to advocate for women and children through volunteer organizations.
Centrice Martin - State College Branch AAUW Scholarship
Pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness Management, Centrice Martin plans to graduate by December 2009. Centrice completed an internship with the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology where she met with prospective students and assisted in creating recruiting materials and is thinking of a career in marketing or public relations. Daughter of a single mother and becoming pregnant herself during her senior year of high school in 2002, Centrice writes that "I decided to do whatever it took to give my child a better life." As stated in one of her letters of support, "Centrice’s potential is unlimited."
Gwyn Phillips and Carol (Buffy) Holt - State College Branch AAUW Scholarship
The committee decided to split the final State College Branch Scholarship between two women who are about to complete their degrees and who both have been prior scholarship recipients.
Gwyn Phillips: Although she suffers from grave physical illness she is currently working to combine her twelve remaining credits into one big integrative arts project and will graduate in December 2008. After graduating with a bachelor of arts in theatre arts, Gwyn plans to work towards a master's degree focusing on the arts, anthropology, and on children. Gwyn is also a single mother whose daughter will graduate from Penn's Valley High School this year.
Carol (Buffy) Holt: Holt, a major in Security and Risk Analysis with an Information and Cyber Crime option, earned an Associate’s Degree in 2003. After returning to college in 2006 she suffered health reverses and is currently fighting a difficult divorce settlement. Buffy also plans to graduate in December 2008.