Luncheon gives DuBois students opportunity to thank scholarship donors

Joyce Fairman, right, with student Emily Gmerek.

Joyce Fairman, right, was among the donors who attended this year's scholarship luncheon. Fairman spoke during the luncheon, offering the donor's perspective, and is pictured here getting to know scholarship recipient Emily Gmerek.

Credit: Steve Harmic

DUBOIS, Pa. — Penn State DuBois students who received scholarships to help cover the costs of their education this year had the chance to personally thank many of the people who made those scholarships possible during a luncheon on April 20.

The annual Scholarship Luncheon, hosted at the DuBois Country Club by the Office of Development, brings together scholarship recipients and donors. Each year, donors and scholars alike are invited to the event to get to know one another. Donors get to see, firsthand, the kind of impact they've had on the lives of students, and the students have the chance to explain how critical the scholarships have been in their educational pursuits.

"We have an opportunity today to express our gratitude to our donors and thank them for their generosity," said Chancellor M. Scott McBride during his opening remarks. He continued, telling donors, "This past academic year our campus awarded more than $423,000 in scholarships to nearly 280 students. That's an impact. I think you should congratulate yourself on that."

Additional speakers during the program included student scholarship recipients Julia Test and Julie Shimmel, as well as donors Joyce Fairman and Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus Richard Kopley. 

The students offered a firsthand prospective on how the scholarships have impacted their lives, making education more accessible and affordable for them.

"If it wasn't for our donors I wouldn't be able to come to school," Test said. "These scholarships mean more than you can imagine. They have offered so much relief and allowed me to stay in school. I already work two part-time jobs while going to school. The scholarships allow me to focus more on studying. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your generosity and support of our community and our school."

Shimmel offered a personal story of how receiving a scholarship helped make an education possible for her as an adult learner.

"It was the summer of 2014, just four weeks before I started college, and my husband's company closed its door," Shimmel said.

Worried that without her husband's income she would not be able to pay for college, Shimmel doubted she would be able to earn a degree. Then, she received a letter that informed her she was awarded a scholarship that would help cover her costs for education her first year. She continued to apply for and receive scholarships from then on.

"It was a letter that changed my college career," she said. "It relieved so much stress. I ended up completing my associate degree and returned for a bachelor's. It made my dream come true. Donors, thank you. You're not just giving a scholarship, you're giving peace of mind and security."

Fairman explained her personal motivation for giving from the donor perspective: remembering what it's like to be in a college student's shoes.

"I grew up in the Pittsburgh area, of modest means, and was the first one in my family to want to go to college," Fairman said. "I didn't expect to last longer than a year. College was expensive, but I did it and I earned a degree. I got loans and scholarships and it helped me make that happen. The only thing separating me from you right now is about 40 years."

Scholarship awards totaling more than $420,000 are awarded each year at Penn State DuBois through more than 50 individual scholarship funds, providing opportunity for aid for students in a multitude of majors.