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Donors honored for steadfast confidence in college mission


The generous support of Pennsylvania College of Technology students by two donor groups – The 1914 Society and The Pillar Society – was readily affirmed in the Community Arts Center’s Capitol Lounge on Saturday evening.

The 1914 Society recognizes individuals and families who make an annual commitment of $1,000 or more to the college; The Pillar Society’s members have named the college or the Penn College Foundation as beneficiaries of planned gifts.

President Davie Jane Gilmour greeted donors and thanked them for their enduring support of Penn College, while Loni N. Kline, vice president for institutional advancement, provided an overview of how their far-reaching thoughtfulness impacts students.

Megan M. Mecouch paints a compelling picture of her life-changing international experience.
Megan M. Mecouch paints a compelling picture of her life-changing international experience.

“Success continues for our students because you have invested in their dreams and believe in their skillful hands and innovative minds,” Kline said. “Grounded in a comprehensive, applied-technology education while promoting a holistic experience that fosters lifelong learning, we will continue to align our collective passions to serve our students so they can transform the communities where they work and live as successful alumni. We are most grateful for your steadfast confidence in our mission.”

Among highlights of her remarks:

  • Throughout the 2017-18 academic year, the Penn College Foundation awarded more than $767,000 in scholarship support to nearly 400 students.
  • External private foundations have taken note of the college’s impressive growth, contributing millions of dollars toward education and opportunity for deserving students.
  • Expansion of welding facilities on campus and the practical nursing program in Tioga County will accommodate increases in enrollment and enhance the college’s historic response to workforce needs.
  • Collaboration and innovation are “alive and well” in the Dr. Welch Workshop: A Makerspace at Penn College, where more than 300 pioneering students have completed training in the first year alone.
  • Donor-enabled improvements to Wildcat facilities are being matched by students’ academic and athletic performance.
Student Development Assistant and scholarship recipient Zachary J. Kravitz, a construction management student from Berwyn, shares his thanks and Penn College experience while engaging through the crowd. Joining him as he networks is Angie E. Myers (standing at right), director of annual giving. Seated (from left) are scholarship donors Tina and Ron Miller (with son Evan); and Kimberly R. Cassel, director of alumni relations.
Student Development Assistant and scholarship recipient Zachary J. Kravitz, a construction management student from Berwyn, shares his thanks and Penn College experience while engaging through the crowd. Joining him as he networks is Angie E. Myers (standing at right), director of annual giving. Seated (from left) are scholarship donors Tina and Ron Miller (with son Evan); and Kimberly R. Cassel, director of alumni relations.

Contributors, who gathered in conjunction with an Uptown Music Collective concert on the Arts Center stage, learned firsthand how their devotion to student success pays off: Megan M. Mecouch, a Lancaster County dental hygiene student, offered warmly personal proof of how philanthropy “can help make the dreams of a small-town girl from Pennsylvania a reality.”

Mecouch told of her August study-abroad experience in the Dominican Republic, a practical reflection of her longtime interest in helping those less fortunate. She was among 17 students who (accompanied by two faculty members) provided preventive dental hygiene services – cleaning teeth; applying sealants; and distributing toothbrushes, toothpaste and education – to hundreds of children during the weeklong outreach.

The student speaker talks with Pillar Society members Dennis F. and Patricia A. Ringling, a retired forestry professor and his alumna spouse.
The student speaker talks with Pillar Society members Dennis F. and Patricia A. Ringling, a retired forestry professor and his alumna spouse.

“Luckily, I am fluent in the Spanish language, and this enhanced my experience tenfold. I was able to help other students communicate with their patients, as well,” she said. “During the procedures, oftentimes the children at the schools would be fearful at first when we would wear our masks and gloves, and it quickly became my role to explain the procedures in Spanish to the children before we would perform them. It helped immensely, allowing our days working at the schools and performing cleanings and sealant placements to run much smoother.”

Elatedly sharing her gratitude for the “amazing experience,” Mecouch said the visit ignited a fire for volunteer work that will continue to burn throughout her life.

Marie E. Knecht (who, along with husband William G., has long empowered and encouraged students) gets an up-close glimpse of how that garden has grown.
Marie E. Knecht (who, along with husband William G., has long empowered and encouraged students) gets an up-close glimpse of how that garden has grown.

“One of my favorite memories was one in which we were in a village, where it seemed as if there was no hope, and we brought paint cans filled with vibrant-colored paint and paintbrushes and created a mural of hope for the community,” she related.

“As we were painting, members of the village watched us and cheered us on and thanked us, and children came from all over to watch in awe as we transformed the grey, dirty wall to an image of an ocean with many colorful creatures living together in harmony,” Mecouch continued. “I remember thinking to myself, if something so simple could bring such joy to others, what a capacity I have to create even more joy and happiness in the lives of others through my dental hygiene career.”

Photos by Rachel A. Eirmann, student photographer

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