Transformational Alumna Honored at Chamber Education Celebration

A nurse turned florist turned teacher (and alumna of Pennsylvania College of Technology) received an Alumni of the Year Award at the 15th annual Education Celebration hosted by the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce at the Williamsport Country Club.

Karen R. Ruhl, owner of Special Occasion Florals in Williamsport, was among those honored at the March 3 event, which recognizes alumni, educators and students nominated by their educational institutions. The Education Celebration also commends the cooperation among Lycoming County school districts, colleges, and business and industry.

Ruhl earned an associate degree in floral design/interior plantscape from Penn College in 2002 and has served as a part-time horticulture faculty member since 2013.

Karen R. Ruhl, center, owner of Special Occasion Florals in Williamsport and a Penn College alumna, was among those honored at the annual Education Celebration hosted by the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce. She is joined by Tammy M. Rich, director of alumni relations (left), and Debra M. Miller, vice president for institutional advancement.

The Williamsport resident is a native of Union County and a graduate of Mifflinburg Area High School and Wesley College in Dover, Delaware. She was employed as a registered nurse for 34 years.

A proponent of lifelong learning, Ruhl enrolled in classes at Lycoming College and later at Penn College in 2000. While attending Penn College, she began working on special-event floral designs in her basement and garage.

In 2008, she opened her retail business. With a fellow Penn College alumna helping her to run her shop, Ruhl continued her nursing career until, gradually, she focused more time on her floral business. In 2011, she made the full-time switch from nursing to floral design.

Ruhl offers classes in fundamental floral design at her shop and provides classes to senior citizen groups, women’s and garden clubs, church organizations, and Girl Scouts. She also judges flower shows for garden clubs.

She will be presenting a series of classes to adult learners at SUN Area Technical Institute in New Berlin in March. She serves on the Williamsport Area High School Horticulture Advisory Board and proctored the 2015 national exams for the horticulture students participating in that program. Ruhl provides support and products to local high school groups’ fundraisers, special events and programs.

She was most recently honored to serve as the florist for the local “Night to Shine Prom,” an event for individuals with special needs who are age 16 and older, held in February. Sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, the event was held at the Community Baptist Church, Montoursville.

Also as part of her community outreach, Ruhl has participated in Preservation Williamsport’s annual Victorian Christmas tours by assisting homeowners in decorating their homes.

In addition to serving as an adjunct faculty member at Penn College’s Schneebeli Earth Science Center, she teaches continuing-education classes through Workforce Development & Continuing Education at Penn College.

A grateful Karen R. Ruhl reminds her audience that it's never too late to learn.

Ruhl says she is “sincerely grateful to Penn College for this honor and for supporting my business and my teaching career.” She added: “It is through the connections of Lycoming College and Penn College that I’ve been able to grow my business and pursue my love of teaching.”

She says she will continue to “promote lifelong learning and support students and others in learning the science and art in floral design.”

Ruhl and her husband, Tom, are the parents of three children: Phillip Ruhl and Peter (Erin) Ruhl, of Loyalsock Township, and Emily (Jared) Glidewell, of Muncy. They are the grandparents of three grandchildren with a fourth on the way.

Lycoming College’s alumni honoree also has a Penn College connection.

Larry Allison Jr., president of Allison Crane & Rigging, is a member of the Pennsylvania College of Technology Foundation Board of Directors and created a scholarship fund at the college in honor of his family. Allison Crane & Rigging is a successor to Lycoming Construction Co., which was located on what is now part of the college’s main campus. The site is commemorated with a bulldozer blade, plaque and historical marker.

The evening also included Business Partner in Education honors for the Kellogg Co. and Outstanding Educator and Student Recognition awards to representatives of all nine county school districts.

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

Pennsylvania College of Technology is a special mission affiliate of The Pennsylvania State University