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North Country Scholarships Aim at Keeping Local Students Local | SUNY Plattsburgh

The aim of the North Country Scholarship Program is to keep local students local after they graduate.

For Danielle Johnson, economic development assistant with the North Country Chamber of Commerce, the program hit its target. The 2013 public relations graduate from Malone, N.Y., said she didn’t even realize she wanted to stay in the region until she was established at SUNY Plattsburgh.

She said like her friends, she grew up thinking “success was defined by how far from your hometown you’ve been able to go.”

But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Receiving the North Country Scholarship told me I was being supported in my academic life by my community. That was very valuable to me — not just for the assistance it gave me toward my tuition but for the faith it showed in local students. It made me realize how special this place is. A lot of people want you to succeed. Businesses want you to succeed,” Johnson said.

As the winter 2013 commencement student speaker, Johnson said she talked about never imagining that she’d stay in the area after graduating

“I imagined I’d get my degree and move. As I went on, I realized that everything I learned in public relations at SUNY Plattsburgh could be applied locally. We were really involved with the community; we worked with clients in the community. I didn’t have to go away to be successful.”

The scholarship program offers freshmen graduating in June 2016 from high schools in the Adirondack region of northern New York free tuition if they’ve maintained a high school average of 90 or above. Those enrolled at SUNY Plattsburgh who then keep their grade point average up can expect free tuition to last up to four years.

Area businesses and individuals that fund the program, like Graymont Materials, Georgia-Pacific, Northern Insuring, and UFirst Federal Credit Union, from which Johnson benefitted, have been contributing regularly to the fund, either by sponsoring the entire scholarship or by contributing to a general North Country Scholarship fund.

“These students have close ties to the local community and can become our future leaders,” said Faith Long G’01, director of development. “The businesses and leaders who support this scholarship program are investing in both our students and our region’s economic future.”

“The scholarship was a great relief to me and my family financially, especially in those first couple of years,” Johnson said. “It gave me the ability to focus on the transition of becoming a college student, on my academics and on becoming part of the campus community without having to worry about where the money was going to come from. But it also put a face to it — someone’s hand you can actually shake and say, ‘Thank you.’”

Johnson had the chance to thank Linda Bourgeois and Jody Carpenter ’92 from UFirst Federal Credit Union for their company’s support of the scholarship program.

“Now, every time I see the UFirst logo — which is often through my work with the Chamber of Commerce — the first thing I think of is my scholarship and how grateful I am that they gave me the chance to succeed locally.”

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