Community college scholars excel at University

By Laura Crowley

Writer

Since the Community College Scholars program began at the University in 2007, 83 students from local community colleges have come to campus.  This fall, 17 students were admitted to the program.

Kelly McKenna ’12 came to the University this fall in pursuit of a psychology and anthropology degree.  Prior to attending the University, McKenna worked a number of jobs in retail that she found unfulfilling.  As a massage therapist, she said she was simply “pampering someone’s life” when she really wanted to be a “champion for autonomy.”

McKenna realized that she could fulfill this desire by working with the disabled population as an occupational therapist. “As an occupational therapist, you really help to create a greater sense of self worth and self-reliance in your clients,” McKenna said.  She said that her education at the University is setting her down the path to fulfill this dream.

With the price of higher education so high, McKenna said that “a financial elitism” is created.  “This scholarship is amazing because it allows [individuals to receive an education] who could never afford this caliber of higher education but who are beyond mentally capable to achieve their academic aspirations,” she said.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation selected the University in 2006 as one of 80 selective colleges in the Community College Scholars program.  The foundation has given the University $800,000 in the past four years to fund the program.  It offers full-tuition scholarships.

Students in the University’s program are recruited from five local community colleges: Lehigh Carbon Community College, Community College of Philadelphia, Garrett College in Maryland, Harrisburg Area Community College and Montgomery County Community College.

Admission into the program is competitive.  Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.5 at their community college.  Those admitted must first attend a six-week summer program to acclimate themselves to the demands of the University.  Of the 30 students enrolled in the summer program this year, only 17 were admitted to enroll full-time at the University.

Tricia Suveg ’12 graduated from beauty school in 2006 and enrolled in classes at Lehigh Carbon Community College after she became disinterested in the field of beauty.  One of her professors at LCCC suggested that she apply to the University’s scholarship program due to her high academic standing.  She is now a sociology major with a certification in education.

Suveg is thankful for her opportunity. “[The University] offers a broad education, enabling students to study a wide variety of subjects, rather than just one specialized field,” Suveg said. “[This education] is a gateway to be involved in almost anything you want as far as internships, organizations, research and so forth.”

Suveg hopes to attend graduate school to earn a Masters degree in Sociology.  “I see myself being an educator. I truly love to learn, and I think my passion for education will translate to students,” she said.

The Community College Scholars program benefits the University as well as its members. McKenna believes it brings diversity to our community.  “Even if you didn’t know my background, it comes out in the interactions I have in class and with fellow students,” she said.

The Community College Scholars program provides students like McKenna and Suveg the opportunity to fulfill their dreams. “Bucknell will open doors I could never have imagined,” Suveg said.

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