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Three Montoursville Sisters Attend Penn College

Depending on the preferred cliché, threes may be a threat, a charm or a crowd. For the Bennett family of Montoursville, it’s a triple blessing that all three sisters are attending Pennsylvania College of Technology.

Aubrey G., 23; Ainsley R., 20; and Addey L., 19, are enrolled in a range of majors: nursing, graphic design and diesel technology, respectively.

Aubrey said the proximity of the college to their home and the ability to save money by commuting made the choice “perfect for our situation.”

According to the sisters, they are the first generation in their family to attend college, and their mother was the encouraging factor.

“Mom really pushed for it,” Addey said. “She always said she wanted us to have what she didn’t have.”

Penn College is a family affair for the Bennett sisters, from left, Aubrey G. (nursing), Ainsley R. (graphic design) and Addey L. (diesel technology).
Penn College is a family affair for the Bennett sisters, from left, Aubrey G. (nursing), Ainsley R. (graphic design) and Addey L. (diesel technology).

Their mother, Dawn Fry Bennett, who has been raising her daughters and a younger son on her own since 2009, grew up on a small dairy farm in Lycoming County.

“It was there that I learned work ethic and to kneel and pray and appreciate the simple things in life,” Dawn said. “On the farm, I learned to keep going when times got tough. I tell my kids that I’m not here to be their friend, but to help prepare them for the real world.

“I encouraged the girls and their brother to seek education. I told them, ‘You can be anything.’ And, as you can see by their choices, they are each different.”

Dawn introduced her children to the rigors and joys of farm life at a family farm in Orangeville, and the siblings said that prepared them for the life challenges they have faced.

In addition to their studies, the Bennett sisters hold down full- or part-time jobs.

Farm know-how has come in handy for Aubrey’s job as a sales associate at Tractor Supply Co. near Muncy, where she handles a lot of questions related to animals and farm equipment.

Addey works second shift at Penske Truck Rental, in White Deer, washing trucks and logging 40 hours each week. For some shifts, she has worked until 3:30 a.m. and still shows up for 8 a.m. classes at the Schneebeli Earth Science Center.

“It’s tough, and sometimes I struggle to get my assignments done, but my professors are all understanding. They know I’ve been working and that I’m not out ‘til 2 a.m. drinking and partying,” Addey said.

Addey’s can-do spirit was also evident when her Chevrolet Blazer’s transmission blew and she repaired it herself.

“I was not going to spend $3,000 to take it somewhere,” she said, “so I bought a manual and a rebuild kit and did it myself. We all have the mentality that you make do with what you’ve got.”

Ainsley, who describes herself as a “jack-of-all-trades,” holds down two part-time jobs, working at Dunkin’ Donuts on Williamsport’s Golden Strip and as a student gallery assistant at The Gallery at Penn College.

The extra money earned at their jobs helps pay for college expenses, and each sister has received financial aid as well as various community and club scholarships awarded through Montoursville Area High School, where they were all involved in extracurricular activities.

Aubrey said she and her sisters are often asked if they receive “a family discount on tuition,” noting that they also have cousins who are attending or graduated from Penn College.

Each sister describes herself as “passionate” about her major.

After Aubrey earns her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, she hopes to stay in the area and work as an emergency room nurse.

“I like the thought of helping people who are in their most vulnerable state,” she said. “With everything I have been through in my life so far, I believe I can actually have empathy – not just sympathy – for my patients. I want them to know, in some cases, I’ve gone through the same thing, and they’re not alone.”

Ainsley hopes to be a freelance designer in a location that will best fit her career and life goals.

Addey sees “endless opportunities” for a woman in the diesel arena.

“Most importantly, I want to be happy with what I do and work in a setting where the men are accepting of me. It’s not all about the paycheck,” she said.

Their mother said she feels “blessed” that each of her daughters has found a calling that they are finding to be fulfilling.

“As a parent, we can only give a foundation as best we are able. The rest becomes their choices when they are among peers. I teach the kids that life is about choices and there is either a blessing or a consequence from our choices,” Dawn said.

Ainsley added that none of the sisters initially planned to go to Penn College, but each found the school to offer “excellent programs” in their areas of interest. Coupled with the ability to “save a ton of money by living at home,” they found that “the college in their backyard fit perfectly.”

Penn College is hosting its annual Parent/Family Weekend Sept. 18-20.

For more about the college, a national leader in applied technology education and workforce development, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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