Penn State World Campus offers new scholarship to online adult learners

January 20, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Adult learners pursuing undergraduate degrees online through Penn State World Campus can get financial help achieving their academic goals thanks to a Penn State alumna and her husband.

The newly created Margaret A. West and Nino Morello Jr. Trustee Scholarship for the World Campus will be awarded to help undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need complete their degrees. Priority is given to adult learners.

“Adult learners have so many hurdles,” said West, who graduated from Penn State in 1972 with a bachelor of arts in psychology and a bachelor of science in community development. “It really takes a commitment to go back to school and try to get a degree when you’re already struggling to make a living and put food on the table.”

West said she hopes the scholarship will help recipients overcome the barriers to completing a degree, and that they will eventually “pay it forward” by helping someone else.

Katherine Alexander, one of the first recipients of the scholarship, quit college after a few semesters and worked full-time for several years before enrolling in World Campus to pursue a psychology degree.

Alexander, 27, worked as a paraprofessional at an autism treatment center before returning to school and plans to go on to graduate school after completing her degree next December. She hopes to become a clinician and continue working with children diagnosed with autism.

Receiving the scholarship has allowed her to take out fewer loans and to be a full-time student, said Alexander, who lives in Santa Rosa, California. “This has given me the opportunity to focus on my studies.”

West and Morello live in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. Morello retired in 2011 as chief financial officer of a custom architectural glass company, and West retired in 2013 as senior vice president of Hawthorn, a part of PNC’s Wealth Management Division. West’s daughter Julie graduated from Penn State in 1996.

West said her liberal arts studies at Penn State prepared her for a successful career in finance, and she believes a liberal arts degree is still valuable today. “The kind of broad, critical thinking skills that you get from liberal arts serve everybody well,” she said.

World Campus students — 85 percent of whom are adult learners — carry an average loan debt of more than $37,000 when they graduate. West said scholarships are more important than ever because of cuts in public funding. “Those of us who have been through it and can afford to help – I think there’s almost an obligation to give back,” she said.

For more information on Penn State World Campus scholarships, click here.

Supporters such as West and Morello are invaluable partners in fulfilling Penn State’s land-grant mission of education, research and service. Private gifts from alumni and friends enrich the experiences of students both in and out of the classroom, expand the research and teaching capacity of our faculty, enhance the University’s ability to recruit and retain top students and faculty and help to ensure that students from every economic background have access to a Penn State education. The University's colleges and campuses are now enlisting the support of alumni and friends to advance a range of unit-specific initiatives.


  • headshot of student scholarship recipient

    Katherine Claire Alexander of Santa Rosa, California is one of the first recipients of the Margaret A. West and Nino Morello Jr. Trustee Scholarship for the World Campus.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 21, 2015