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North Country Scholarship Program Assists Local Youth

SUNY Plattsburgh freshman, their families, and members of the local community filled the E. Glenn Giltz Auditorium in Hawkins Hall Friday, Oct. 21 for the North Country Scholarship reception that celebrated 150 recipients who received the North Country Scholarship this year.

“This event allowed local scholars and their families to meet the benefactors who support this growing scholarship program,” said Faith Long, director for development at SUNY Plattsburgh. “For students, it’s a great opportunity to thank generous donors and also to network and meet business and community leaders who offer both scholarship support and mentorship for our North Country students.”

Funded by area businesses and individuals, as well as the Plattsburgh College Foundation, the North Country Scholarship program aims to retain local youth.

Free Tuition Program

“Although the program has been around for eight years, this was the first time that we were able to offer free tuition,” said Anne Whitmore Hansen, vice president of institutional advancement. “All students who graduated with an average of 90 or above from high schools in the seven counties of the Adirondack region were accepted into the program. This was a big incentive for regional students to choose SUNY Plattsburgh.

Almas Purisic admits that’s why he chose SUNY Plattsburgh. He is a first year student enrolled in the physics (engineering) 3+2 program and addressed the audience on behalf of his fellow scholarship recipients.

“This program is a holy grail to this community and its youth,” he said. Purisic went on to address the donors in attendance. “Had it not been for you, I would not be at this podium or attending this college. You are not just investing in local students’ futures, you are investing in the community’s future as well.”

Among the donors in attendance was Mike Penfied, director of manufacturing at Georgia Pacific in Plattsburgh, NY. His company increased its support this year and now funds two scholarships.

High-Quality Education Locally

“With two named scholarships, it allows us to support and give back to families who support our local school systems and students who recognize that you don’t have to travel a long way to get a high-quality education, and you can also find jobs in the local economy,” Penfield said.

Assemblywoman Janet Duprey was the keynote speaker and talked about the importance of community involvement.

“Each year I am impressed with the level of giving that comes from our local businesses and individuals. More than 20 local businesses, large and small, and some individuals donate at the level of a named benefactor scholarship. The generosity of these sponsors whose names are listed in today’s program assures our bright local students will have the benefit of an affordable college education.”Students in the program will continue to receive free tuition as long as they maintain a 3.25 average and live at home or in the campus dormitory.

Purisic commented that the scholarship not only made his mother’s life easier financially, it helped her emotionally when, on move-in day, she realized he was only 20 minutes away from home.

Young North Country Professionals

“Our hope is that once they’re here meeting people in the local business community, possibly through local internships, they’ll become our young North Country professionals,” Long added.

Donors like Penfield couldn’t agree more and look at these students as potential future employees.

“We are hosting a luncheon as a way to thank them for their commitment to gain a higher level of education and to provide some insight into our company.  These students are the future of our society.”

Duprey concluded by saying, “As you move along your career path, I wish you success. I also hope that you stay here in our North Country. It’s a wonderful place to live; it’s a spectacular place to raise a family. We have a growing local economy that I believe will provide jobs for you once you have your undergraduate and perhaps graduate degrees. I’ll be following your success and look forward to your commencement in four years. Go forward with pride and determination class of 2020.”

Anyone interested in donating to the North Country Scholarship program should contact Long at 518-564-3615 or email [email protected].

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