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Penn College’s partnership with Lenfest Foundation yields first graduate

A building construction technology student is Pennsylvania College of Technology’s first graduate in its alliance with The Brook J. Lenfest Foundation Inc., which funded a $1.8 million scholarship program for underserved populations from the commonwealth’s southeastern neighborhoods. The distinction belongs to Isaiah S. Robinson, of Philadelphia, who received his associate degree during commencement exercises on May 14 and will begin working in the field the following week.

Graduate Isaiah S. Robinson poses with President Davie Jane Gilmour after the May 14 afternoon commencement ceremony ...
Graduate Isaiah S. Robinson poses with President Davie Jane Gilmour after the May 14 afternoon commencement ceremony …

Postgraduate employment with one of the college’s industry partners is the culmination of a journey that began with Robinson’s enrollment as a Fall 2019 freshman, a journey during which he found support from a campuswide network that includes the LEAP Center and the college’s Lenfest Advisory Committee.

“I’d like to thank the Brooke J. Lenfest Foundation for the scholarship,” he said. “It was a big help through my college experience, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to receive it.”

“While starting the college process, Penn College became my top choice after reviewing all of the hands-on opportunities that are provided to students,” he said, explaining his lifelong interest in building things. “After taking a tour of the campus and seeing all of the things that I would have access to, I knew this was the right place for me to learn the construction field.”

Robinson enjoyed meeting new people from different walks of life and career paths, and said The Tutoring Center was a great asset that provided the help he needed to complete some of his courses.

... an update to this April 2019 photo of the incoming freshman and the president.
… an update to this April 2019 photo of the incoming freshman and the president.

Among the building construction faculty members who encountered him along the road to a diploma is Clifford J. Jones, his instructor in a Trim and Millwork course.

“He installed a door and put stock molding around it. He installed a window and made custom molding and a custom window stool. He installed a three-piece base molding and crown molding. He fabricated a laminate countertop, and built a staircase and balustrade from start to finish,” Jones said. “To be able to complete all of these projects takes someone with a great work ethic, and he showed he has one.”

Jones said that discipline also stood out in an Introduction to Electrical & Mechanical Systems class, where Robinson’s attendance was good and his homework excellent: “This is a very difficult class, so tests and quizzes are extremely hard. I was happy he did so well; I hope we made a positive influence in his life.”

Robinson said exposure to multiple areas of the construction world – building structures, completing trim and tile work, roofing and concrete, among them – allowed him to fine-tune his vocational focus.

Majoring in Building Construction Technology allowed me to touch all aspects of the construction world. From building structures, completing trim and tile work, roofing and concrete. By having this exposure to multiple areas of construction, I was able to see what area I wanted to focus on and start a career.

“Concrete stuck out to me the most, and I grew to embrace it. I never thought about having a career in concrete prior to attending college or this class. This opened the door for me to have a paid summer internship at Forcine Concrete and Construction Co.,” he said. “I am proud to say that, upon graduating, I have accepted a full-time position with this company. I look forward to my future endeavors. Thanks, PCT, for all that you have done to get me to this awesome career opportunity!”

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