Patrick and Mardelle Kopnicky, benefactors of an endowed scholarship at Penn State New Kensington, were the keynote speakers on Oct. 25 at the campus' annual Scholarship Reception, an event that brings together scholarship recipients and donors. The reception gives students who receive New Kensington campus scholarships a chance to meet their benefactors face to face.
Campus scholarships are awarded to eligible students on the basis of academic promise, leadership qualities, community service and financial need. This year, new and returning students at the New Kensington campus earned a total of $160,000 in scholarship money. Thirty-nine scholarships were awarded to 100 students with an average award of $1,600 per student.
Among the scholarship students at the reception were Christopher Capo and Katryna Willard, the 2011-12 recipients of the Patrick Kopnicky and Mardelle Sacco Kopnicky Trustee Scholarship, a $50,000 endowment established by the Kopnickys in 2008. Capo is an engineering major from New Kensington, Pa., and Willard is a letters, arts and sciences major from Brackenridge, Pa.
One of the donors selected for special recognition was David Howarth who traveled from Michigan for the reception. The Elbert S. Howarth Endowed Scholarship is named after his father, who died in 1992. Elbert, a registered engineer, retired from Alcoa in 1980 as associate director of the Alcoa Technical Center.
During his 44-year tenure at the company, Elbert was an advocate of higher education and of establishing a local Penn State campus in the area. The New Kensington campus opened its doors in 1958 on Fourth Avenue in the heart of the city of New Kensington and quickly outgrew its downtown campus. Elbert diligently lobbied Alcoa to provide 35-acres of land along Route 780 in Upper Burrell for the growing campus. The initial tract, which has more than doubled to 72 acres, has been home to the present day campus since 1966.
Continuing his association with the campus, Elbert served on the Advisory board for 22 years, including a term as president.
Elbert, who earned a bachelor's degree from Carnegie Mellon University, often lamented to his wife, Virginia, that many local and talented students did not go on to college because "they did not want to leave the area or were not able to afford the costs." His vision of the merits of a community campus, coupled with the creation of a scholarship that bears his name, assuaged both concerns.
Virginia, a University of Pittsburgh graduate and former teacher, continues the family's support of the endowment that is awarded to an engineering student at the campus. This year's recipient is Samuel Carlson of West Leechburg who met with David at the reception.
Penn State New Kensington is part of "For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students," a University-wide effort to raise private donations to strengthen support for students, faculty and programs. All gifts enhance Penn State's historic mission of teaching, research and service to society.
For more on giving to the campus, call Donna Speer, director of development, 724-334-6057 or visit http://www.nk.psu.edu/Giving/givetoday.htm online.
For a list of scholarships and recipients, visit http://www.nk.psu.edu/Information/News/44069.htm#NEWS44069 online.