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Dedication to roots leads former North Country residents to establish scholarship

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (June 11, 2009) - Paula and Michael Freed may have moved far away from their North Country homeland, but that hasn't kept them from extending a helping hand to its residents.Although they currently live in Grand Rapids, Mich., the two SUNY Plattsburgh and Granville Central Junior Senior High School alumni have found a way to give back to both alma maters and to help fellow Granville graduates at the same time. They are doing so through a $50,000 gift to the Plattsburgh College Foundation.

These funds will be used to create the Paula and Michael Freed Scholarship, which will provide a total of $10,000 in scholarships, annually for the next five years, to Granville graduates attending SUNY Plattsburgh. Recipients may be entering freshman or students in any of their first four undergraduate years at the college. Academic merit will be a major factor in the selection of Freed Scholars.

"Particularly given the economy, we just felt that this was the best way we could continue to reinvest in our hometown and at the same time, help to make education affordable at a school that we believe in," said Mike, who is now the executive vice president and chief financial officer of Spectrum Health, one of the nation's top integrated health care delivery systems.

Mike, Paula and their three daughters all spend time dedicated to field of health. Paula, a 1980 graduate of the nursing program, volunteers to help the elderly at a Spectrum nursing home. One daughter is a child-life specialist. Another works in communications at Spectrum. The youngest plans to become a genetics counselor.

Mike, who graduated in 1979 with an accounting degree, also believes strongly in supporting state colleges. Two of his daughters have graduated from state schools in Michigan, and their youngest is currently attending another Michigan state school.

"We've talked to the girls about value, and we had to make some decisions in their college education about what we were willing to pay for. We emphasized a state school education, probably, because that's what we knew and because there were great opportunities for state education here in Michigan. Frankly, we want to make sure that we do what we can to help that still be the case in New York state," he said.

The first recipients of these awards will be Tyler Guest, a freshman criminal justice major from Granville; Lindsay Lyons, the president of the college's Student Association and a senior sociology major from Granville; Jonathan Merz, a freshman accounting major from Granville; Hope Monroe, a junior psychology major also from Granville; James Park, a sophomore social work major from Wells, Vt.; Amanda Prehoda, a freshman childhood education major from Middle Granville; and Cody Wheeler, a junior nursing major from Granville.

"We're long since removed from that part of the country, but it's still our hometown, and the college is still ours," said Mike.

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