Alumni couple creates educational equity scholarship in Bellisario College

November 23, 2020

Abe Amorós, a 1990 graduate of the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, always envisioned a long-term relationship with Penn State.

From student to student leader, young alumnus to alumni volunteer, he could see it almost from the beginning when he started his college career at Penn State York.

That was more than three decades ago, though, and his relationship has changed since then. It’s gotten bigger and better than he ever imagined.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would turn out the way it has,” Amorós said.

Amorós, the managing director for the city of Reading, Pennsylvania, and a member of the Penn State Board of Trustees, hopes a gift from him and his wife, Leslie, can help other Penn Staters to enjoy similar relationships and success. She is vice president of communications for Imprado, a company focused on strategic communications, risk assessment and planning, and bridging between the business environment an IT.  

The couple recently committed $25,000 to create the Amorós Educational Equity Scholarship in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. This gift will be matched 1:1 through the University’s recently concluded Educational Equity Matching Program.

This support will help the Bellisario College address problems of educational access that have historically reinforced economic disparities, and the students who benefit will drive transformation that, in turn, benefits the entire Penn State community and our wider society. Scholarships created through the program are intended to benefit undergraduates whose gender, race, ethnic, cultural and/or national background contribute to the diversity of the student body and who have a demonstrated financial need for funds to meet their necessary college expenses.

“Education was  a big deal in my family. There was never a question in my mind we’d go to college,” he said. After he earned his bachelor’s degree at Penn State, he later added a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Still, a college education was not entirely a foregone, fully funded conclusion for Amorós.

Formal education for his father, Fernando, ended in the sixth grade in Puerto Rico. His mother, Ana, worked for 24 years at the school district in York, Pennsylvania, where Amorós and his brother grew up.

Cost almost forced Amorós to drop out of Penn State, so he knows about the choices some families and students face. Before becoming a University trustee, he served three terms as a member of the Alumni Board in the Bellisario College and worked closely with its Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

“If we can help a student of color to have the means to go to college, and if we can mentor as well, that’s so important,” Amorós said. “We don’t have a very good representation of people of color in newsrooms, advertising agencies and other places where we’re communicating massages. We see a lot of people of color on the news, but need more involved in producing the news. Hopefully this support will help prepare students for those kinds of careers.”

At Penn State, he explored several majors before selecting journalism because of his love of writing. He met his future wife and fellow Penn State student, Leslie, as an undergraduate and eventually embarked on a professional career serving others. Amorós previously served as Pennsylvania legislative director for the Laborers’ International Union of North America. In 2018, he was named one of the 100 Most Influential Latinos in Pennsylvania by Latino Connection.

Leslie, who earned her bachelor’s degree from the Bellisario College in 1991, shares a passion for helping others that led to the creation of the scholarship. Leslie grew up in Swatara Township just outside Harrisburg. At Penn State, she was heavily involved with her sorority, Sigma Sigma Sigma, along with what was then called Undergraduate Student Government as a town senator.

“Our family has always been about giving back in any form, whether it was time, talent or any kind of monetary contribution,” she said. “Our daughters have also been kind to many others in many ways and were exposed to the strong culture of giving at Penn State.”

Their daughters both earned Penn State bachelor’s degrees: Alessandra in film-video in 2018, and Sabrina in human development and family studies in 2019, respectively.

The family’s gift will advance “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hard-working students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by serving communities and fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu

Last Updated April 15, 2021