Couple endows scholarship to help others as well as their alma mater

Susan Burlingame
February 04, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Jill (Harris) Helmer grew up in Clearfield, Pennsylvania, while Chad Helmer spent most of his formative years in Allentown. Their paths never crossed before attending Penn State, but, as has happened with countless other alumni couples, the University brought Jill and Chad together. They were engaged on the steps of Old Main, married in a State College church, and held their reception at the Nittany Lion Inn.

Chad and Jill graduated from Penn State in 1993 and 1992, respectively, and went on to successful careers after graduation. Jill, a journalism major, spent her career in human resources before starting her own talent development consulting business. Chad, an economics major, followed in his family’s footsteps and is now the co-owner of Patriot Chevrolet and Patriot Buick GMC in Boyertown, Pennsylvania.

Though neither Chad nor Jill received scholarships to attend Penn State, they say they live by the credo, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Their love for their alma mater, combined with their philanthropic spirit, has resulted in support for Four Diamonds (Chad and Jill volunteered for THON as undergraduates), contributions to a Trustee Scholarship fund in the Bellisario College of Communications, and most recently, a $50,000 pledge to create the Helmer Family Scholarship in the College of the Liberal Arts.

The couple took advantage of a generous 1:1 matching program previously available as part of the University’s campaign, “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence.” The match doubles the ultimate value of the endowment and makes some of the proceeds available immediately. The Helmers’ scholarship gives first preference to students enrolling in the College of the Liberal Arts who are graduates of Boyertown High School.

“As we watch our own kids dream of their future and the colleges they will attend, we want others to have the same opportunity,” said Chad. “Giving has always been important to us, and with this scholarship we can help others while also helping our alma mater.”

“I have known Jill and Chad since our student days at Penn State. They were leaders as students, and they are still leaders today,” said O. Richard Bundy III, vice president for development and alumni relations. “This scholarship gift is yet another expression of their abiding commitment to supporting the mission and vision of the institution. We are incredibly grateful to the Helmer family for this thoughtful and generous investment that will help make a Penn State education financially accessible to talented students from their community.”

“Penn State is incredibly important to us,” added Jill. “Every little bit someone gives can open the door for someone else. This scholarship is our way of making a long-lasting impact.” 

Jill and Chad are the parents of three children, the oldest of whom is a junior in high school.

“He’s starting to look at colleges now, and we, of course, want him to seriously consider Penn State,” the couple said. 

The Helmers’ gift helps Penn State as it seeks to fulfill its mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections. "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence" focuses on three key imperatives: Open Doors, Create Transformative Experiences, and Impact the World. Through teaching, research and outreach, and because of generous alumni and friends, the College of the Liberal Arts is able to offer scholarships to deserving students; create life-shaping experiences; and make a difference in the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more, visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

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Last Updated March 28, 2019