Geographer invests in education to open doors for others

David Kubarek
November 20, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Growing up in a segregated part of Washington, D.C., in the 1970s, Tony Hutchinson didn’t see a lot of the kids in his neighborhood going on to college. Even though several members of his family had graduated from teacher’s colleges, for him it didn’t seem like an option.

That all changed, through the help of role models in his life, and Hutchinson graduated from Penn State’s Department of Geography in 1990 before beginning a decades-long career using data analysis to drive home-lending decisions.

“Penn State provides opportunity,” Hutchinson said. “This is a place that gives you everything you need so that you can be successful later in life. It gives you the skills that you need to be able to navigate the world of business or education or whatever you want to do. It was really fundamental in providing me the building blocks that I would need to begin my career as a geographer.”

That’s what inspires Hutchinson to create opportunities for others, whether it be through advanced education opportunities or fair and attainable mortgage lending practices.

At Penn State, Hutchinson is a mentor who continues to invest in improving opportunities for minorities. For this year’s Giving Tuesday campaign, which supports the College of Earth and Mineral Science’s Millennium Scholars Program, Hutchinson has committed a match of $5,000. The Millennium Scholars Program is a University-wide initiative to improve diversity in STEM fields by helping diverse, bright students pursue a path to a doctoral degree.

At Freddie Mac, where he is the director of government and industry relations, Hutchinson advises leaders on the importance of creating mortgage lending policies that don’t limit lending among diverse groups. In his career, he’s applied the data-analysis skills that he learned at Penn State for positions with the National Association for Realtors, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

He’s worked in an industry that’s seen tumultuous times, including the 2017 collapse of the housing market; and regulations such as the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which he helped advise on, that toughened requirements for attaining mortgages.

Hutchinson used his background to illustrate how new mortgage practices could increase home ownership among African-Americans, Hispanics and others who are disproportionately shut out of the housing market.

He continues to promote equality for students, too. He said giving students equal opportunities benefits both the student and society.

“We have this untapped talent out there that just could explode on the scene and do great things only if they believe they could,” Hutchinson said. “One of the biggest barriers is finance. If we can remove the financial barriers, that’s a great first step.”

Hutchinson sees a parallel between the work he does at Freddie Mac and his efforts to open doors for students.

“It's the same with the work that I do,” Hutchinson said. “I’m trying to expose people to the truth about the opportunities they have for homeownership. I also want to expose Millennium Scholars to the opportunities they have for education, so that they can be the best person that they want to be.”

To learn more about EMS’ challenge for Giving Tuesday or to give, visit the college's Giving Tuesday website.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated December 02, 2019