Students and donors look to the future with new IST scholarship

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For many Penn State students, a Sunday brunch at the Nittany Lion Inn might mean a special event with a student organization or the last goodbye after a family visit. But for several students in the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), it was a chance to meet and say thank you to two donors who are offering financial support as they pursue their degrees.

On Sunday, Oct. 1, Armen and Claudia Manoogian hosted seven students who are benefiting from the Manoogian Excellence Scholarship in the College of Information Sciences and Technology. The couple created the scholarship earlier this year, which provides each student a $5,000 annual award for four years.

“I was incredibly honored and excited to receive this scholarship,” said Aubrey McElrath, a cybersecurity analytics and operations major from State College, Pennsylvania. “I work two part-time jobs to help pay for school, so the scholarship makes a huge difference. It gives me more time to focus on my classes and hobbies, and lets me become a bigger part of the IST community.”

Throughout the brunch, the students discussed their experiences as new members of the Penn State family and shared their goals for the future. It was a unique opportunity for donors and beneficiaries to meet face-to-face, one that was not lost on either group.

“My family is helping me to pay for college, so this scholarship really helps,” said Pooja Patel, a security and risk analysis major from Blandon, Pennsylvania. “Meeting the Manoogians was an honor because they were such kindhearted individuals that showed such an interest in everyone's life. It was great just to get to know them and say thank you for their support.”

The Manoogians shared their hopes for the students and discussed why they wanted to make a financial commitment to support IST students like them.

“Meeting with these students was tremendously moving for us,” said Armen Manoogian. “Learning about their experiences on campus and hearing their excitement for the future reinforced our belief that financial barriers should not stand in the way of educational opportunity. We are excited to support these students throughout their time at Penn State and are eager to hear about the unique experiences they are enjoying.”

And while the students are just starting their academic careers at Penn State, both they and the Manoogians are eager to see their relationship continue to grow.

“I’m really excited to be at Penn State,” smiled McElrath. “I teared up when I received the scholarship because these people whom I’ve never met are showing faith in me and helping me reach my goals. I want to make them proud and pay it forward so other students can have the same opportunities they are helping me receive.”

Gifts from Penn State’s alumni and friends have been essential to the success of the University’s historic land-grant mission to serve the public good. To fulfill that mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections, the University has begun "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a fast-paced campaign focused on the three key imperatives of a public university. Private support will keep the door to higher education open and enable students to graduate on time and on track to success; create transformative experiences on Penn State campuses and around the globe that tap the full potential of Penn Staters to make a difference; and impact the world through discovery, innovation, and entrepreneurship. To learn more, please visit

Last Updated October 12, 2017