Idea Pod Magazine Fall 2016

Page 1

FALL 2016

The magazine of The Pittsburgh Promise



Food Rescue Heroes Meet Dr. Hamlet

FALL 2016

The magazine of The Pittsburgh Promise




The Financial Aid Puzzle


First Word


Getting to Know Dr. Anthony Hamlet


Building Community


How Do You Save Money?


Giving Glimpse


Improvisation for Better Communication


Career Spotlight


The 2016 Executive Scholars


Promise Voices


Ask the President


Last Look

EDITORIAL Executive Editors Lauren Bachorski, Saleem Ghubril, Heather Hackett


Contributing Writers Kate Benz, Shawn Butler, Mike DeVanney, Heather Hackett, Natalie Jellison, Tessa Karel, Victor Kivuva, Alyssa Kruse, Ellie Levine

Franco Harris (Chair) Member of the NFL Hall of Fame Owner, Super Bakery Inc.

Art Direction/Design Phil Mollenkof

Martin G. McGuinn (Vice Chair) Chairman and CEO (Retired) Mellon Financial Corporation

Photography Joshua Franzos, Joshua Gates, Phil Mollenkof Advertising Marsha Kolbe

Candi Castleberry Singleton (Treasurer) Founder and CEO Dignity & Respect Inc.



Anne Lewis (Secretary) Board Chair Oxford Development Company

Kirk Johnson Senior Vice President Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Mark Laskow Managing Director Greycourt & Co., Inc. Pamela Little-Poole Program Manager A+ Schools William Peduto Mayor City of Pittsburgh Edith Shapira, M.D. Psychiatrist Private Practice

Debra Kline Demchak (Executive Committee) Community Leader

James Spencer President and CEO EverPower

Maxwell King (Executive Committee) President and CEO The Pittsburgh Foundation

Ian Stewart CEO of Treasury Services and Pennsylvania Chairman BNY Mellon

The Pittsburgh Promise is a partnership between Pittsburgh Public Schools, the City of Pittsburgh, UPMC, and other key funders.

Kiya Tomlin (Executive Committee) Founder and Custom Designer Uptown Sweats by Kiya Tomlin

James E. Taylor, Ph. D. Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer UPMC

Idea Pod is funded through advertisements placed by Promise-eligible, post-secondary institutions.

Chester R. Babst III Managing Shareholder Babst Calland

The Pittsburgh Promise is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and is an affiliate of The Pittsburgh Foundation.

William Benter Founder, International CEO & Chairman Acusis Anthony Hamlet, Ed.D. Superintendent Pittsburgh Public Schools 2 ideapod // FALL 2016

Demetri N. Zervoudis Senior Vice President Covestro Saleem Ghubril Executive Director The Pittsburgh Promise


WHAT DID MY EDUCATION BUY FOR ME? Saleem Ghubril Executive Director The Pittsburgh Promise I was the first in my family to get a college education. My family loved me and did all they could to support me, but as new immigrants who fled from the civil war in Lebanon when I was 16, money was tight and options were few. It was really important to me to pursue a college education, but as a newcomer to this country who had to learn to navigate a new culture, a new language, and new systems, I had a clunky start. Because of the kindness of teachers, counselors, neighbors, and friends, I learned about and applied for a Pell grant and student loans. I received a small grant, but most of my education was financed through loans and part-time jobs like driving a yellow school bus, selling clothes at a department store, and waiting tables at a burger joint. What did my education buy for me? • It shaped my ability to think and fueled my curiosity to see a deeper truth


In the City of Pittsburgh

90 Neighborhoods to choose from!

• It ignited my creativity so that I not only see problems but also imagine solutions, and work to bring about change in the world • It empowered me to understand my limits while at the same time lean into the opportunities • It enabled me to engage in meaningful and thoughtful conversations with my peers, with older people like teachers and employers, and with younger friends like students • It reminded me that many people came before me from whom I must learn, and many will come after me who will look at my life for example • And yes, my education helped me to get a job, to earn a living, and to provide for a family Would I have liked to go to college without debt? Does a one-legged duck swim in circles? Of course I would have. It took me a little while to pay off my student loans, but that was an investment worth making. Unlike borrowing money to buy things that wear out, break down, or become obsolete, my education continues to this day to bring a return on investment. I look forward to seeing how your education will not only change your life, but the world as well.


Pittsburgh Public Schools


A Promise Scholarship


90% +

2.50 GPA

(cumulative and unweighted)

= Your Promise Scholarship 3 ideapod // FALL 2016





very year, 40% of the food in this country gets wasted, yet 1 in 7 people go hungry. Much of the food that gets wasted is fit for consumption, but gets sent to the landfill because it looks funny (such as a misshapen carrot), has a confusing date label, or was improperly packaged. At the same time, many in our community suffer from poverty and food insecurity— as we throw perfectly good food out, there are many people who do not know where their next meal may come from. 412 Food Rescue works to bridge that gap and gathers fresh, healthy products that would otherwise go to waste and directly distributes those items to community organizations that serve individuals and families who are food insecure. 412 Food Rescue, a non-profit that started in March 2015, is dedicated to fighting hunger and ending food waste. We partner with businesses like Giant Eagle, Whole Foods, Bruegger's Bagels, and the East End Food Co-op to collect edible food and save it from going to landfills. We utilize technology and social media (like Facebook and Twitter) to mobilize our network of volunteers—food rescue heroes—to pick up a donation as soon as it is available and drop it off immediately to a matched community organization. Natalie Jellison, a Brashear High School graduate and Promise Scholar, is currently a senior at Chatham University and an intern with 412 Food Rescue. The Promise scholarship helped Natalie attend Chatham University where she designed her own major, Environmental Justice. Natalie started the first 412 Food Rescue Campus Chapter where students collect the leftover food from the university’s dining hall, as well as the Squirrel Hill Giant Eagle, and donate it to a local senior high-rise. With Natalie’s leadership, a partnership was also created between 412 Food Rescue and ZipCar to allow students who don’t own a car to transport food. Her work with 412 Food Rescue during the summer and fall semesters focuses on launching 412 Food Rescue Campus Chapters at surrounding colleges and universities in the Pittsburgh region. 412 Food Rescue has also started a Teen Ambassador program. The first Teen Ambassador, Ellie Levine, is a Promise-Ready honor student at Taylor Allderdice High School who dedicates much of her free time to community service work. Ellie is active in the community and assists in the organization of many volunteer opportunities for teens. Last year, Ellie participated in a nineweek course at Repair the World: Pittsburgh in partnership with the Jewish Community Center and J Line in which she helped educate her peers on social justice issues as well as volunteering for a variety of service projects. Ellie is the Youth Involvement Advisor for Repair the World: Pittsburgh and 4 ideapod // FALL 2016

Natalie Jellison is a 412 Food Rescue intern and a Promise Scholar. Ellie Levine is 412 Food Rescue's first ever Teen Ambassador.

now embarks on working with 412 Food Rescue to create more volunteer opportunities for youths as the first Teen Ambassador. There are several ways for young people to get involved with 412 Food Rescue in helping to fight hunger and end food waste. You can join your parents in volunteering by accompanying them on a rescue. If you're under 18 and have parental permission, you can also do rescues yourself! If you do not have a car—not to worry! 412 Food Rescue has partnerships with ZipCar and Healthy Ride, two local ride-sharing services that give free access to those who want to go on a rescue. High school students can also become advocates like Ellie through our Teen Ambassadors program, and once you become a Promise Scholar, you can join Natalie in starting and leading a 412 Food Rescue Campus Chapter. Lastly, we can all work to reduce waste in our daily lives by not buying more food than we need, preserving food through canning, pickling, or freezing, and giving food to our friends and neighbors. And, of course, you can volunteer with 412 Food Rescue! Get involved! Learn more about volunteering with 412 Food Rescue by visiting

$39 million Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion


GET ACQUAINTED DAYS Open Houses for College-Bound Students and Their Families Saturday, Nov. 12 Saturday, Jan. 28


Monday, Jan. 16, 2017 Monday, Feb. 20, 2017

Whatever your dreams, Saint Vincent College is ready to prepare you for a successful future. • Top-ranked academic quality in nearly 50 major areas of study, plus pre-law and pre-med • Merit Scholarships of up to $20,500 in renewable awards • 100 percent of freshmen receive financial aid. • Catholic, Benedictine values orientation in and out of the classroom


An education that challenges you. The values that guide you. A location that inspires you.

And an experience that will define you. 99% of freshmen receive financial assistance 80 undergraduate majors 15:1 student-faculty ratio 200+ student organizations


5 ideapod // FALL 2016


Mike & Angela DeVanney joined Keepers of The Promise before their daughter was born, and they remain committed to unlocking a million possibilities for our city's children.

NOVEMBER 10, 2016


few years ago, my wife Angela and I joined the Keepers of The Promise. Keepers of The Promise operates exclusively to support and promote the work of The Pittsburgh Promise by increasing visibility and awareness, developing or deepening friendships with donors, and assisting in supporting fundraising efforts through community outreach.

in order for our city and region to grow. Pittsburgh’s Renaissance will not be complete until we have a public education system that works for every student and family, and all of our young people have a chance to grow intellectually and socially. That’s a promise Angela and I plan to keep to our daughter, and one we hope Pittsburgh will keep to every child.

Our involvement served as an eye-opening encounter that gave us a better understanding of the importance of The Pittsburgh Promise and its ability to shape the futures of Pittsburgh Public School students. Angela and I quickly understood that it wasn’t enough to simply make this promise. Keeping it will take work, and urgency, and it can only be kept if a broad spectrum of Pittsburghers commit to the cause.

As one effort to fulfill this commitment, the Keepers of the Promise will be the Host Committee of the upcoming Promise gala, A Night of a Million Possibilities. Presented by PNC Bank, A Night of a Million Possibilities will feature internationally acclaimed jazz musician and composer Wynton Marsalis, along with his quintet. The concert is projected to raise a minimum of $1 million for The Pittsburgh Promise Scholarship Fund.

Keepers of The Promise holds a particular significance in the DeVanney household, and Angela and I are reminded of it every time we look at our daughter, Eleanor, who was born the same day that we were scheduled to host a Keepers of The Promise party in our home. Eleanor was born at eight o’clock in the morning and just nine hours later, I was opening our doors to more than 100 guests. With a roomful of neighbors and friends, and Angela in the hospital with our newborn child, we found ourselves invested in this cause with a unique sincerity. When I think of Eleanor and the thousands of other children who will grow up in this city, I am struck by the sense that we need to make it possible for each child to flourish—regardless of their station in life—

A Night of a Million Possibilities will take place on Thursday, November 10th, beginning at 6 PM at Downtown Pittsburgh’s Wyndham Grand Hotel. For information about purchasing tickets, tables, or sponsorships, visit, or call 412.745.2220. Individual tickets are $250 and table sponsorships start at $2,500. Corporate sponsorships are also available. The gala won’t simply raise funds, or even awareness. It will raise spirits and lift our shared commitment to The Pittsburgh Promise. It’s more than giving money—it’s giving time, giving hope, and giving voice to our better selves. That is a promise worth keeping.

INSPIRED BY THE DEVANNEYS? Get involved by making a gift or attending A Night of a Million Possibilities.


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MAIL Mail your check to: 1901 Centre Avenue, Suite 204 Pittsburgh, PA 15219

A NIGHT OF A MILLION POSSIBILITIES To learn more about this event, visit


Exploring a Career in the

Energy Industry

Alyssa Kruse is a Human Resources Specialist at Peoples.


Peoples encourages community participation, offering opportunities to do so during work hours, and employees log hundreds of volunteer hours annually. Here, a group of employees joins Peoples mascot “Freddy the Flame” at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk.


magine a career that allows you to make a difference­—that allows you to actually make things better. Imagine yourself making your community better. Making the environment better. And, at the end of the day, making your life and the lives of your customers better. Now, imagine a career within the energy industry and realize that you can make things better. Whether you are college-bound, ready to sharpen your skills with a trade school program, or looking for work immediately following high school graduation, Peoples may have the opportunity that you are seeking. Improving our communities, the environment, local business, and the lives of our family and friends through the distribution of natural gas is what we do, and it is what we are passionate about. Peoples is the largest natural gas distribution company in Pennsylvania, and we provide reliable and low-cost service to approximately 700,000 homes and businesses throughout our coverage area in Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky. Natural gas can be used to heat homes and power appliances at a lower cost to the customer, and with a lower carbon footprint than many alternatives. Moving natural gas to customers wouldn't be possible without the dedication and hard work of our employees, whose roles vary from handson workers in the field to office professionals. Peoples offers a blend of opportunities and a work culture that encourages professional growth and movement throughout the company. Employees receive advanced training and have the option of continued education during their employment.

The energy industry requires many types of skill sets. Below are examples of two entry level opportunities we frequently hire for: Fitter/Natural Gas Field Worker Natural gas cannot be distributed without pipelines, which is why field workers are so important. Peoples’ team of union fitters is comprised of both skilled and semi-skilled workers who construct pipelines, perform landscaping, and execute concrete/asphalt restoration. Fitters are responsible for duties such as flagging, ditch digging, shoveling, and assisting more skilled workers. After gaining experience and learning necessary skills, fitters can become responsible for higher skilled duties, such as operating heavy equipment, fusing pipe, and finishing concrete.

Peoples is the largest natural gas distribution company in Pennsylvania, providing reliable and low cost natural gas service to approximately 700,000 homes and businesses in Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky. The company’s mission is to improve the lives of its customers and to help build long-term economic growth for the region. Visit us online: Website: Facebook: Peoples Natural Gas LinkedIn: Peoples Natural Gas Instagram: peoplesnatgas Twitter: @peoplesnatgas YouTube: Peoples Natural Gas

Customer Service Representatives When there is a problem, Peoples wants to work quickly and efficiently to solve it for our customers. Our team of customer service representatives is dedicated to making our customers’ lives better by offering quality service, answering billing questions, and responding to customer needs over the phone. People who love to communicate, have computer skills, and want to make a difference may find a rewarding career in our call center! Some entry level positions also require secondary education or specialized training or certification, including roles in our field customer service, engineering, accounting, or design departments. New talent is always desired, especially in an innovative and evolutionary industry such as energy. Consider energizing your future and joining the effort to make lives better.

7 ideapod // FALL 2016



LOVE LETTER to LANGUAGE Victor overcame language barriers following his immigration to the United States. Now he plans to combine language, music, and policy into a career.


nglish wasn’t my first love, but I never gave up on it. At just three years old, I immigrated to the United States from Kenya with my parents, who received Fulbright Scholarships to get their doctorate degrees. English was difficult. It didn’t make sense. The “gh” in the word “tough” sounded like an “f”. The “ch” in “Charlotte” sounded like the “sh” in “should,” and don’t forget that the “l” is silent. And so on. Slowly, I began to pick up bits of English through music. Songs and melodies stuck with me. The “Alphabet Song” helped me learn my letters. From then on, when I needed to remember something, I tried to make it into a song. As I grew up, I’d put my headphones on and let Tupac, Rakim, Big Pun, Lil’ Wayne, and Souljaboy translate for me, teaching me about history and culture in the same beat. The only problem with discovering English through rap music is learning which words you can repeat in front of your mother! But pretty soon, my English became stronger than my Swahili.

Music has been my passion since it helped me learn a second language. Writing lyrics is therapeutic for me. Regardless of the emotion I'm feeling, there is never a time when I don't write. It's not only a form of self-expression, but also a way that I work through my feelings and situations. When I got to college, I spent my weekends singing and my weekdays studying. Then I realized that I could combine my passions. I’m studying political science and hope to become a lawyer. I’m passionate about justice. Being a lawyer is all about studying words, and interpreting them to help execute justice. The way I use words— which ones I choose, and how I say them—can make all the difference in a case. It’s the same thing with music. It’s about understanding which words to say, how to say them, and the meaning behind them. That knowledge makes all the difference between mediocre lyrics and songs that impact people. By the time I’m thirty, I’d like to create a company designed to help Pittsburgh artists with legal representation in order to elevate the city’s greatest talents. My vision is to connect artists with everything they need in order to be successful; providing services like management and legal representation. My dream allows for my love of music, words, and policy to intertwine.

VICTOR'S FAVORITE ARTISTS •Kendrick Lamar •Andre 3000 •Erykah Badu •Stevie Wonder •Zach Brown Band •Anderson .Paak

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"By the time I’m thirty, I’d like to create a company designed to help Pittsburgh artists with legal representation in order to elevate the city’s greatest talents." Victor Read more Voices at:


GET A HEAD START ON COLLEGE By taking classes through CCAC’s Dual Enrollment program while still in high school, you can earn college credits toward a degree at CCAC, or you can transfer these credits toward a degree at another college or university upon graduation from high school. To learn more, contact or call 412.237.3100.

Use your Promise scholarship at CCAC. 50 YEARS ONE MILLION

From Brashear

High School

to the Super


(via Seton Hill University)


fter using his Pittsburgh Promise scholarship to earn a degree in sports management from Seton Hill, Bryan Woodfork went to work for the Seattle Seahawks. As part of the fan development and community relations team, Bryan supported the Seahawks as they made their successful Super Bowl run in 2014. Bryan has also worked with ESPN’s College GameDay and the Seattle Sounders.

Being at a smaller university where everything and everyone is so close really helped me develop into who I am today.

– Bryan Woodfork, Seton Hill University Class of 2013

From Seton Hill, you can see your future. What will you see? Come on up to the Hill and find out. Schedule a visit online at, or give us a call at 1.800.826.6234. From here, things are looking UP. 9 ideapod // FALL 2016

THE FINANCIAL AID PUZZLE By Shawn Butler & Heather Hackett

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n spite of being fairly familiar with the college admissions process through my work with The Pittsburgh Promise, even I found myself caught off-guard when we got a letter from my daughter’s high school at the beginning of her junior year inviting us to a college planning night. It seemed a bit ahead of schedule, but we soon discovered there are real advantages for students who get an early start! Students can get a head start during their junior year by registering to take the SAT and/or ACT exams, beginning to research schools, meeting with college admissions folks who visit high schools or college fairs, and even taking some campus tours. Junior year is also a great time to consider which teachers may provide recommendation letters, and ask them. Over the summer before your senior year turn to essay writing, taking or retaking the SATs or ACTs (or seeking preparation help if needed), and continue the research already begun on schools. Starting this process early provides definite advantages later that impact financial aid. Namely, that applications can be completed and filed earlier, permitting students and families to move on to the financial aid process sooner. Ideally, students should decide which schools they will apply to by the end of the summer following their junior year. Application deadlines vary from November for early decision, to January and February for regular decision. Experts recommend applying to at least four schools: one safety school (a school they know will admit them), one reach school (a school whose academic requirements are slightly beyond the student’s achievements), and two others that are a good academic match. One of the reasons for the “4-School Rule” is that generally, students perform their best when they attend more selective schools. In addition, having several financial aid packages offers more options. When selecting schools to apply to, students should include a mix of public and private colleges in order to be able to compare financial aid packages. Grants and other awards often reduce the “sticker” price and make private schools more affordable.

the EFC amount from the total cost of attendance published on their website and work from there to provide as much aid as they can, within the parameters of their financial aid policies and the funding they have available. Government money (Pell, PHEAA, and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants) is always applied first, followed by other grants and scholarships. The Pittsburgh Promise scholarship is added after these grants and scholarships. Grants and scholarships are funds that students do not have to re-pay. Loans and work study are applied last. Starting early and getting college applications filed in the fall frees up more time to research and apply for scholarships. There are many online resources (see page 17 for a few to get you started). You can also inquire at the schools that you’re interested in; they may have private scholarships just for students who attend their school. Once students receive financial aid packages they should ask questions to be sure they understand clearly what the college is offering. If scholarships are included, are they for four years? What academic requirements are tied to keeping the grants each year? The Promise requires students to complete 24 credits per year and maintain at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA. Most scholarships have similar requirements. Finally, financial aid is sometimes negotiable. Don’t hesitate to call and ask for additional help. Students need to be comfortable talking to the financial aid office. Asking for book vouchers or short-term loans, understanding the cost of your education and the annual requirements for grants and loans are all important training and experience for life. Let it begin now. Shawn Butler is the Director of Programs at The Pittsburgh Promise.

Public schools, such as community colleges and state schools, generally do not provide grants and scholarships based on financial need; they primarily award funds for exceptional academic or athletic achievement, or what is referred to as “merit awards.” Private schools generally award both need-based aid and merit awards. Grants and scholarships provided directly by a school are referred to as “institutional aid.” The first step to applying for financial aid at all schools is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The word “free” means that there is no charge to complete the FAFSA. The FAFSA has sections for both student and parent information, and it is filed online at Filing the FAFSA is how students qualify for federal government aid, or the Pell grant, which can be as much as $5,800 for students with the greatest need. After filing the FAFSA for the first time, applicants are asked if they wish to file the PA State Grant Form (PHEAA). This is very important because students who don’t qualify for federal money may still qualify for state funds. Many students qualify for both. PHEAA grants can be as much as $4,700. The state form only has to be filed once, in the freshman year, unless the student changes schools. The big news for the high school graduating class of 2017 is that the FAFSA will be available months earlier than it used to be. Students planning to attend post-secondary schools in the fall of 2017 may begin their FAFSA submissions as early as October 1, 2016. Furthermore, students and parents will use their prior year tax returns (2015) eliminating the race to get taxes filed in order to complete the FAFSA. One of the biggest advantages provided by the “Early FAFSA” is that schools will be able to provide financial aid packages earlier, and students will be able to make well-informed decisions about the school they choose to attend with a complete picture of their financial obligations. It is important to know and meet the financial aid deadlines for each school applied to because some operate on a first come, first served basis when awarding aid. Once the FAFSA is filed, students will receive an Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This is the amount the government calculates the student and their family can contribute toward the cost of education. Schools use this number to begin putting a financial aid package together. In general, they deduct

Kayla Bowyer Communications 2011 Amachi Ambassadors Coordinator Amachi Pittsburgh

mercy Carlow is driven by mercy, and justice, and service. When you think about how these align with your own personal values, choosing a college is a no-brainer. Today, I help young people discover their greatness. I help them realize the power in their own stories and how they can impact the lives of others. You may be just one person, but you can do a lot. You can truly make a difference.

What drives you? |

11 ideapod // FALL 2016


As a post-secondary student, when it comes to the financial aid puzzle, everybody puts things together differently. Aside from variations in personal circumstances, the process of seeking and receiving financial aid, scholarships, and loans is also changing all the time, as we learned from The Pittsburgh Promise’s Director of Programs, Shawn Butler, on page 11. We caught up with a few Promise Alumni to see what advice they had to share with future Promise Scholars. These individuals successfully reduced their personal overall financial responsibility through a variety of means, and proactively managed the loans they were required to take out to meet their remaining financial commitment.

DOMINIKA Currently employed by The Pittsburgh Project, Dominika graduated from Schenley High School in 2009 and went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in history from Clarion University. In addition to The Promise scholarship, Dominika also received a variety of need-based assistance, including federal and state aid, as well as grants from her school. Although Dominika always hoped to continue her education, she didn’t think attending college would be affordable for her until she learned about The Promise scholarship, and as a result she hadn’t established a personal savings, nor could her father (who was a single father of three children) offer financial support. In spite of the ongoing economic challenges, she was able to complete the entirety of her schooling with about 85% of her educational expenses covered by scholarships and grants, and the remainder paid by loans that she believes can be paid off in 15 years or less.

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DOMINIKA'S ADVICE “Students need to motivate themselves. You have got to get out of the mindset that someone is going to hold your hand through the process—it’s going to be tough! College is really hard. I feel that it can be especially hard if you’re coming from the environment of the inner city, and even more so if you’re African American. If you are not taught the things you should be in order to be college-ready, it may feel like you’re basically playing catchup that first year. Stay strong and remember that this is going to help you in the long run, so stick it out and get your degree!”



GREG Greg graduated from Carrick High School in 2011 before pursuing his degree in mechanical engineering at LeHigh University. He now works at CENTRIA. Greg received a variety of financial assistance beyond The Promise scholarship, including three Carson Scholarships, two scholarships for improving his college academics, and grants, as well as a work study opportunity from his school. Although Greg wasn’t employed throughout high school, he devoutly saved any money he earned through chores and odd jobs, and he continued to build his savings through summer jobs and responsible financial practices throughout college. His various forms of “free money,” coupled with some assistance from his parents, resulted in Greg only needing to take out loans for two of his four years in college. Following graduation from LeHigh he enlisted an aggressive repayment plan and managed to pay off the entirety of his debt within a single year of attaining his degree.

GREG'S ADVICE “It’s never too early to start looking for ways to fund school. The Carson Scholarship awards students from fourth up through eleventh grades, and their funds will grow over time. While in high school, consulting teachers and counselors can provide you with good information, and similarly in college with professors or the financial aid office. There’s also no harm in Googling scholarships, just make sure they’re legitimate before applying. And, of course, you need to be smart about saving the money you have. And always work hard— it will pay off!”

JESSICA JESSICA'S ADVICE “Stay attentive to all of the opportunities that are out there and use as much of the information presented to you as you can. And if you have a parent, guardian, or friend who wants to be involved and help you, let them! It is a much easier process to go through when you have someone you know by your side asking questions, clarifying requirements, and assisting you with finding funds for education. Your parents’ or friends’ help is a symbol of caring about your education and your future.”

Jessica graduated from CAPA High School in 2011 and then completed the Women’s Studies program at Chatham University. Aside from her Promise scholarship, Jessica’s school offered her a number of grants and scholarships when she applied, and also coordinated networking events where students could attain additional funding based on their participation. Altogether, about 40% of her education was covered by scholarships and grants. In addition to efforts to minimize her debt, Jessica also worked part-time throughout high school and full-time during college, which allowed her to support herself during school and begin a savings account. Another benefit of working while in school was that it offered the chance to jumpstart her career early on; in fact, she was recently promoted to a supervisory role at Planned Parenthood, the same employer that she worked for while in college.

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Now that you’ve met Dominika, Greg, and Jessica, read on to learn more about their stories, and the tips they can offer as you prepare for your own journey. SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS Grooming yourself for success could entail maintaining a strong academic record, performing community service, excelling

On occasion, someone may even take the initiative to nominate you for a scholarship. That was Greg’s experience when he received his first scholarship in eighth grade: “I was nominated for the Carson Scholarship by my middle school principal. The nomination was primarily based on my academics and performance at school. But community service was criteria for evaluating folks, so doing work with my church, like helping out at carnivals and other events, helped me to receive the scholarship once nominated.”

GET A HEAD START If you begin researching schools early on, you’ll have plenty of time to make an informed decision. Even though Dominika wasn’t certain she’d be able to attend college, she visited Clarion University in both her junior and senior years of high school, and during that visit she even got to submit her application for free. So when she determined college was going to be part of her future, she was able to easily decide: “…my heart was like, ‘Go to Clarion!’”

at athletics, getting involved in other extracurricular activities, and more. Many of these activities can lead to scholarships in and of themselves. But there’s also the chance that the adults overseeing the activities you participate in could provide reliable recommendations for scholarship and grant applications.

14 ideapod // FALL 2016

Jessica took advantage of student observation days at Chatham University before making her final decision. But once she did her research she reports, “I was completely devoted to Chatham as being my chosen college. I had visited the campus for the first time to get a feel for the environment, the physical aspects of it as well as what types of programs were going to be interesting and available for me. And I knew from that first visit that I wanted to go there.”

MAKE—BUT BE WILLING TO REVISE— PLANS Since Dominika’s decision to go to college was a bit last-minute she didn’t have a backup plan if her application to Clarion wasn’t accepted, but her dad encouraged her to apply to CCAC just in case. “Now that I’m older and know more, I would advise people to have a back-up plan." Greg shared that if it hadn’t been for The Promise scholarship he would have tried to stay closer to home, even if it meant attending an out-of-state college. “I couldn’t see myself going six hours away, so I may have been looking in the general geographic area rather than going by state. So if it hadn’t been for The Promise making those boundaries I wouldn’t have looked at LeHigh.” Fortunately his openmindedness allowed him to continue exploring his options and eventually he found the school of his dreams within Pennsylvania: “From the moment I visited LeHigh University—a small, private school with a great engineering reputation and beautiful campus—I knew I wanted to go there.”

AVOID ASSUMPTIONS Making assumptions about the price tag of various programs and degrees may lead prospective students to miss opportunities. Greg advises future Promise


Scholars, “Don’t shy away from a certain school just because they have a high cost of tuition. It’s always worth applying if it’s a school you want to go to, and go through the process. From my experience, private schools are able to give more aid than public schools. It can be scary when you look at the total cost, but definitely talk to people in financial aid and ask about the types of funding there are and what the school’s policy is for meeting need-based aid. Don’t let a school with a high sticker price scare you off if you really want to go there. There’s always going to be some way they can help you fund it if you put in the time and effort.”

DON’T GO IT ALONE Both Jessica and Dominika found coordinating getting the needed information and paperwork from their parents as being one of the hardest parts to navigate during the financial aid process. Fortunately for Dominika, she learned about a FAFSA help event being offered by a community

organization, and she was able to attend with her father so they could complete the process together step-by-step alongside knowledgeable advisors. Jessica relied on her university’s financial aid officers and scheduled a meeting with an advisor prior to her first semester that her mother attended, which allowed everyone to be involved and stay on the same page. However, after that initial meeting it did become a greater challenge to keep her parents in the loop, which Jessica compared to playing a game of telephone between advisors and parents in which there’s “a balance of trying to figure it out on your own, but still needing that parental guidance since you need their financial information.”

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OPPORTUNITIES In addition to providing financial aid advising, your post-secondary school likely


offers heaps of other resources and assistance. But many opportunities will require some effort from students in order to benefit. For instance, Jessica’s school offered the World Ready Women Scholarship to all incoming students who took the initiative to attend a Scholarship Day event. In addition to receiving their scholarship, students also had the benefit of networking with alumna, faculty, and new students before the school year began.


Career or Graduate School Placement

This Doorway Opens Many Others

Doctorates in Clinical-Community Psychology, Community Engagement, and Leadership and Administration

18 Master’s Degrees (including multiple M.B.A. options)

95 Undergraduate Programs

Online Degrees

Po int Pa r k. e du

It’s true that a college education can open doors, but students and families can’t ignore the price of admission. Grove City College offers an amazing value. Tuition and costs run about half the national average before scholarships and financial aid. And while many students graduate with little or no debt, the real value of a Grove City College education is in the opportunities it creates to live a rewarding, purpose-driven life. Students learn from faculty who are distinguished in their fields and have access to exclusive internships and amazing opportunities to study abroad and serve others. A highly-ranked Career Services Office helps students determine and pursue their professional calling, resulting in 97 percent of graduates at work or in graduate school with six months. 15 ideapod // FALL 2016


Based on his FAFSA submission, Greg was eligible to participate in his university’s work study offerings. But placement wasn’t guaranteed, and Greg had to attend a work study fair to meet with the various organizations and departments from around campus that were hiring at the time, and then apply for the positions he was interested in. Each placement opportunity entailed different

attend the study hours and meetings in order to remain eligible as a recipient. Greg’s commitment to hard work in college was recognized during both his junior and senior years of college, when he received scholarships from LeHigh University for having the most improved GPA since freshman year within his field of study. Greg didn’t even know that this scholarship opportunity existed, so when he learned he was the recipient for his major it was a nice surprise. Greg said, “I was obviously very pleased to receive those, and it was validation for all the work I put in over those years. It shows that if you keep working hard, and stick to it, even if you have a rough semester you can bounce back!”


scheduling and work responsibilities, so it was important to weigh all of the options and consider whether he could make the time commitment required of various openings. “There were a lot of different work study placements, and many allowed you to do homework and study while you were working, so I found something that worked for me and stuck with that, and fortunately the time crunch [of the workload] never affected me.”

KEEP UP THE HARD WORK For most folks it holds true that the hard work you put in as a high school student can’t come to an end once you’re accepted to your school of choice and offered your first financial aid package. Many scholarships come with requirements that students must maintain minimum GPAs, such as Jessica’s World Ready Woman Scholarship. Dominika qualified for a Board of Governor’s Scholarship at Clarion University. In addition to keeping her GPA above 2.5, Dominika shared that “My first semester as a freshman we had to do study hours. It was about 10 hours a week, and we also had to attend biweekly meetings with the man who ran the program.” However, once Dominika received her first semester’s grades, they were deemed high enough that she was no longer required to

16 ideapod // FALL 2016

As you prepare to continue your education after high school, it’s important to start saving money. Even if you don’t have a job it’s likely that you can perform some chores or odd jobs like Greg did. “Any type of money I got, I’d save. I made sure I had my eyes on the end goal and knowing that I was going to need that money down the road when I was in college because Mom and Dad wouldn’t be buying me food every week, and I was going to have to provide for myself then.” Continuing to save during college is also advisable if possible. Jessica recommends, “Set a few dollars aside, even if it’s just change. I know this idea is taught to a lot of people, but actually doing it was super helpful. I was able to save a little on the side for emergency reasons. If you can do that, even if it’s just a little, it can reduce a lot of stress. Especially if you get out of college and you’re not sure what you are going to do right away.”

SACRIFICES MAY BE REQUIRED In addition to saving money you make, it’s also very likely that you are going to have to make some tough decisions in order to exercise financial responsibility. For instance, Greg lived on-campus through his junior year. But it turned out to be more cost-effective to stay off-campus his senior year and split rent with friends, than being on-campus with a meal plan. “You can’t be afraid to put in some time, do a little math, figure out what you have

to spend, and see where you can save money. Be smart with budgeting and don’t throw $50 a week away on pizza. It’s really about being responsible, and using common sense before you purchase something.” Speaking to the allure of refund checks received during college, Dominika urges future Promise Scholars to “just give it back, don’t even think about spending it! Put it toward your loan so you have a certain amount paid off before you’ve even gotten a job.” Dominika also shared that her post-college plans didn’t take shape how she thought they would, so she had to adapt: “I got closer to graduating and didn’t have any money and realized I needed to move home and make a new plan. I actually got a job as a custodian when I first got out of college. Even though it wasn't the right fit for me, it was all I could find.”

DO YOUR HOMEWORK All three of these Promise Alumni agree that it’s of the utmost importance to understand your financial situation and opportunities during post-secondary education. Dominika cautions prospective students, “Really listen when people are talking to you about your loan. Instead of just signing your name on the line, really read the promissory note and make sure you understand what’s happening.“ Greg found navigating the financial aid process to be a source of confusion, particularly since the private school he attended required additional paperwork beyond the FAFSA. “As the years went on it got easier, but it was difficult to understand all of the different types of aid available, how they affect what you’ll have to pay back versus won’t have to pay back, and what there’s interest on.” Greg also noted that it’s necessary to understand factors of your individual school, such as how they bill you, how they expect to be paid, how they apply work study funds, how they base their financial aid package on estimated costs and that may vary based on where you live or what major you choose. Ultimately, Greg was fortunate in not having to take out many loans, but he still made sure to thoroughly investigate any debt before taking it on. “I was smart about selecting my loans in terms of how much I knew I’d be able to finance. So I was able to take only subsidized loans instead of unsubsidized, and the interest didn’t start growing until after I graduated.” Heather Hackett is the Communications Coordinator for The Pittsburgh Promise.





I found my Place at EU “Before I received the Pittsburgh Promise, college did not seem financially possible. Now that I have been given this opportunity, I strive to make the most out of each day by staying involved and active on campus. I chose Edinboro because of the University’s reputation for providing a great education, and the campus is beautiful. There is a place for everyone!”



Apply at

Promises made.

Promises kept.

For over 160 years, Saint Francis University has been keeping promises to students just like you. The promise of a better education and the promise of a better tomorrow. Today, 97% of all Saint Francis graduates are employed or in graduate school just six months after they graduate. That’s a promise kept. | Reach Higher. Go Far.

17 ideapod // FALL 2016

Getting to Know

Dr. Anthony Hamlet

Learn more about how Pittsburgh Public Schools’ new superintendent got where he is today, and why he thinks the word ‘no’ can be a motivator.


eing drafted into the NFL should have been the ultimate life achievement for Anthony Hamlet.

After all, what’s not to love about signing bonuses and 60,000 fans screaming at the top of their lungs every Sunday? When he was growing up in Delray Beach, Florida, it was one of his dreams. But he was small. So when he told his friends what he wanted to do when he got older, they thought he was nuts. 18 ideapod // FALL 2016

Seriously, Anthony? A football player? You’re crazy!

broken bones and a hip displacement. But he remembered what the doctors said.

He had heard that before: “Anthony, you can’t…”, “Anthony, you’ll never…” He had been hearing it since he was five years old, when his cousin threw a football that landed under a parked truck instead of soaring over it. Anthony was underneath its wheels when the driver began to pull away from the curb.

You’ ll never be in organized sports.

He doesn’t remember much about the accident beyond being in the hospital with some

“I’ve been told I’d never do a lot of things in life,” he says. “If I believed in no, I wouldn’t be here right now.” Where he is right now is the new Superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools. As far as he’s concerned, hearing the word “no” is motivation to prove those who say it wrong.

Show the world that yes, you can do what everyone says is impossible.

Davis came calling a few days later with an offer of a full ride, he didn’t hesitate. “I’m in!” he said.

His dad was in jail for most of his childhood, as were some of his uncles. His mom worked three jobs to put food on the table. She was loving, and also really tough. It’s one of the reasons he was always afraid to get into trouble at school. The only time he ever got sent to the principal’s office was in the sixth grade when he got into a shoving match with his friend, Elvis.

He was 17 when he started as a freshman and had absolutely no idea what he wanted to do with his life. Between hard-core lifting to bulk up and playing football for the Hurricanes, he changed his major five times: broadcast journalism, marketing and advertising, public

Because all that stuff that we’re supposed to think will show everyone how successful and important and cool we are—money, hot cars, fame—can disappear in the blink of an eye.

Because if his mom ever found out he got into trouble, oh man—he’d probably get three more licks when he got home.

“But education,” he says, “is the one thing that no one can ever take away from you.” Kate Benz is a professional writer who contributes regularly to The Tribune Review, Pittsburgh Magazine, Pittsburgh Quarterly, and TABLE Magazine.

Although his dad wasn’t around, he found role models in other African American men including his step-grandfather, a minister, and his high school football coach, Leonard Mitchell.

It was the first time he had heard that: Believe in yourself, because we do. “My teachers would hand me back a paper and say, ‘You can do better than this.’” By the time he got to high school, he was close to 6’3” but skinny. Like, toothpick skinny. But he was fast. He had speed. He ran track, did decathlons, and was an offensive and defensive tackle who could outrun almost everyone, including the running backs. One day, University of Miami coaches Butch Davis and Jimmy Johnson took notice. “I hated Miami,” he says. Anthony was a Gators fan. University of Florida all the way. When he received a letter from Miami, he crumpled it up. Don’t you dare throw that away! His mom exclaimed. Miami’s my favorite! So he sent the letter in. When Miami kicked Florida’s butt during the first game of the season, he started to reconsider the whole Gators thing. And when Coach

Dr. Hamlet believes in student voice and student choice. He’s here to listen and to work together to find solutions to problems, to be a champion for all kids across the school system. He believes in the potential they have to overcome all those “You’ll nevers...” “When you get down, get up and try again,” he says.

“They gave me three licks with a paddle and I said, ‘Do whatever you need to do but please don’t call my mom!’”

Come on, Anthony, they’d always say, don’t fall into the trap of the street. You have talent and smarts and a lot to look forward to in life.

After twenty-two years climbing the ranks in the Palm Beach County school system, he landed in Pittsburgh as our Superintendent with a top priority of seeing that every student graduates college and career ready, and eligible to receive The Pittsburgh Promise scholarship.

DR. HAMLET Details relations, criminal justice, psychology and sociology.

Hometown: Delray Beach, Florida High School: Atlantic Community High School

“My main focus was to get a degree,” he says. “It’s more important to find out about things and what you like than it is to get frustrated.”

Bachelor’s degree in general studies from The University of Miami

During his senior year in 1992, he was drafted into the NFL in the 10th round as a defensive end for the Seattle Seahawks. The 263rd pick.

Doctor of Education from Nova Southeastern University

He got a small signing bonus and suited up. He played with Seattle, the Indianapolis Colts, and for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League until a knee injury sidelined him. He likes to say the NFL stands for ‘Not For Long’ since the average pro-player’s career lasts only three years. When he returned to Florida, it was Coach Mitchell that encouraged him to start subbing as a teacher and coaching at Wellington Community High School in Palm Beach County. The principal noticed how well the kids related to him and said, “Hey, you should get a teaching certificate.” It was kind of ironic; growing up, the last thing he ever wanted to be was a teacher. He was shy, and hated speaking in front of people. Yet, there he was, teaching.

Master of Education from Nova Southeastern University

Age: 46 Lives: Downtown Favorite quote: “I never lose. I either win or I learn.” -Nelson Mandela Three tips I recommend to make the most out of your high school experience: 1. From taking a high-level course to trying a new activity or just meeting new friends, high school provides multiple opportunities for students to challenge themselves and try something new. 2. Don’t be afraid to be yourself or ask questions. Teachers and staff are there to support you. 3. Establish good habits early such as arriving at school on time and prepared for class, with homework completed from the night before. 19 ideapod // FALL 2016




On Thursday, November 10th, jazz great Wynton Marsalis will perform an exclusive concert to benefit The Pittsburgh Promise. It will be a night where the possibilities expand for thousands of Pittsburgh’s students. The million possibilities belong to them. The possibility to make their dreams attainable belongs to you.


20 ideapod // FALL 2016


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o you ever see someone and want to talk or connect with them, but you just don’t know how to start? You may even have friends or classmates who struggle with conversations as well. This is very common but there are several strategies that can help to overcome feelings of nervousness around conversation.

or adding to it, remain persistent in “YES, and-ing.” People like to be heard, so by repeating back what you hear them say, it’s more likely they will relax and open up. They’re also more likely to listen to what you have to say.

At Open Up Pgh, we help students build social and conversational skills. The classes we offer are great for individuals with special needs and anyone who wants to have more success in social settings, because there are hundreds of fun activities that focus on boosting social skills. Students play games and participate in exercises that teach them to better focus their attention, feel confident with self-expression, and collaborate with others. The games are fun, and enriched social skills are a welcomed side effect.

Tessa Karel is the founder of Open Up Pgh, an organization that brings accessible and tailored classes in improvisation/theater games and yoga to schools and locations throughout the region. Open Up Pgh currently offers yoga classes and workshops in Pittsburgh Public Schools, including Beechwood Elementary and Pioneer Education Center, thanks to a grant from the Edith L. Trees Foundation.

One strategy we enlist at Open Up Pgh comes from the art form of improvisational theater. Improvisational theater is an art where actors get a suggestion from the audience and the actors make up a play on stage. Many people think to do this you have to be funny or particularly creative. The truth is: you don’t. The first thing you learn in an improv class is the “YES, and…” rule, which requires you to accept what the other person says as true, and then say something that relates to what they said. For example, if one actor says “I love riding a train with you!” You can say “YES, we love riding trains, AND we love sitting in the caboose.” Imagine, on the other hand, if you said, “No, we are not on a train, we are in a kitchen.” The scene would stop dead on the tracks. So the purpose of the game is to keep the scene going. That’s all well and fine for a theater show, but how does this apply to conversations? A good conversation includes a little give and take. A successful conversation does not start out with “NO.” The key is to listen, accept what you heard, and add a little bit of something of your own related to what you heard. If you are wondering, “What if I am not sure I understand what I heard, or agree with it?” You can just ask! By asking questions, you show the person that you are interested in their ideas. The thing is, often people don’t actually listen in conversations. Most of us jump right ahead to thinking about, “What am I going to say?” Or if we disagree with what we heard, we may shut down, or argue, instead of asking questions to further understand the other person. You can practice building conversation skills by playing the game of silly conversation “YES, and...” scenes with friends at lunch, or with family at home. You can also practice it in real life, even if the other person doesn’t know you are doing it. If the other person isn’t accepting what you say

22 ideapod // FALL 2016

TRY IT! Interested in trying out some improv games? Open Up Pgh offers free accessible monthly family improv games at the Arcade Comedy Theater in Downtown Pittsburgh on the first Saturday of the month from 1­–2 PM. Or contact to bring a workshop to your community or school. Try One-Word-At-A-Time Letter with a friend! You and your friend are writing a letter to a famous person. Every letter has a beginning, middle, and an end. You both can only say one word of the letter at a time to create the entire letter. This game requires you to listen closely to your friend, and to accept what they say as you add your idea. The challenge is to make the letter make sense! The letters tend to get really silly!

Executive Scholars The Pittsburgh Promise


The Executive Scholars Program builds a pipeline between high-performing students and our major corporate donors. The program provides students with the chance to connect with the prestigious company with which they are matched and pursue internships and other professional development opportunities during their college years. High school seniors with a strong academic performance (3.5 GPA or higher), a commitment to community service, and leadership skills are encouraged to apply. The Executive Scholars Program is one of the ways that The Promise can help students transition not only from high school to college, but also from college to a career. We are very proud of our 2016 Executive Scholar Class. Congratulations!

UPMC Scholars of The Pittsburgh Promise

Highmark Scholars of The Pittsburgh Promise

While attending Pittsburgh Allderdice, Adam Barsouk spent most of his free time dedicated to furthering cancer research through his work at the Hillman Cancer Center. He now attends Penn State University on a pre-med track and hopes to become a physician and contribute to a global effort greater than himself.

Mathew Johnson is an accounting major at Duquesne University. He aspires to become a Certified Public Accountant after he graduates, and to someday establish his own accounting firm. Mathew is an avid lover of music. He graduated from Pittsburgh Carrick where he was very active in athletics and played five sports.

HongChing Cheung is a graduate of Pittsburgh Allderdice who now studies international business at Chatham University. HongChing played soccer, was a member of the robotics club, and enjoys photography and the outdoors. She hopes to one day work for a company that will allow her to utilize her bilingual abilities.

Greta Gasswint is a dancer as well as an engineering major at Penn State University. Devoted to science and the arts, she sees herself as a community leader, a role model, and an innovator. Greta is a graduate of Pittsburgh CAPA, where she wrote for the school paper, participated in school musicals, and was valedictorian of her class.

While attending Pittsburgh SciTech, Steven Myrick was a volunteer at a daycare and worked as a tutor. Now a computer science major at Duquesne University, Steven enjoys taking his programming skills to the next level by building video games. He is proud of his ability to combine his skills in both art and programming.

Jordan Anderson graduated from Pittsburgh Obama and now studies public health at Temple University. She hopes to open her own orthodontist practice one day. In high school, Jordan helped to establish a garden in conjunction with her school’s Food Revolution Club and volunteered with a local food pantry.

Alyssa Scott studies business management at CCAC. At Pittsburgh Brashear she was the color guard captain, a choreographer for the musical, business manager for the yearbook, as well as a volunteer at a local library. She enjoys helping people discover their true potential, and recognizes that little things go a long way.

Joy Padolf is studying international relations at Duquesne University where she hopes to learn more about the way the U.S. interacts with other countries in order to break barriers across borders. A Pittsburgh Allderdice graduate, Joy enjoys art and music and recently submitted her own film to the Make a Change Film Festival.

Eden Petri, a graduate of Pittsburgh CAPA, was in the math club and girl’s robotics club. She learned the importance of giving back while volunteering as a Peer Helper at Planned Parenthood. She is studying computer science at the University of Pittsburgh and hopes to inspire young girls interested in STEM.

Dylan D'Alessio attends Carlow University, where he received an academic scholarship. A business management major, he’s focused on developing the skills to someday start his own business. While attending Pittsburgh Brashear, Dylan was on the basketball team and also volunteered as an assistant coach for a children’s league.

23 ideapod // FALL 2016

American Eagle Outfitters Scholars of The Pittsburgh Promise Maya Best was valedictorian of her class at Pittsburgh CAPA. Attending the University of Pittsburgh, she hopes to pursue degrees in creative writing and anthropology. Maya is passionate about helping children. She has served as a volunteer tutor at the East End Cooperative Ministry, and teaches English at the local library.

Hailey Treloar is a graduate of Pittsburgh Obama and is attending Washington and Jefferson College, where she received an academic scholarship. She was captain of her soccer team and volunteered at the Brookline public library. Her major is international business, and she hopes to travel the world making a difference.

A graduate of Pittsburgh Carrick, Patrick Keating played volleyball while balancing his academics along with work. Patrick is attending Robert Morris University, where he received the Independence Institutional Scholarship. He is studying business and marketing, and hopes to make others aware of public programs that are available.

Madelynn Mitchell is a journalism major who hopes to one day publish her own book. She's spent a lot of time volunteering at a local food pantry. Madelynn is no stranger to hard work and always held at least one job since she was sixteen. She is a graduate of Pittsburgh University Prep and is now attending Lincoln University.

Bili Thang is a graduate of Pittsburgh Brashear. He is now attending La Roche College to study computer science. While he attended high school he enjoyed playing sports. He also has a passion for music. Bili takes pride in his academic achievements and maintaining a part-time job during high school.


BNY Mellon Scholars of The Pittsburgh Promise

Giant Eagle Scholars of The Pittsburgh Promise

Jada Lowe is studying psychology at Penn State University. She hopes to learn from her own experiences in order to understand others and give back to her community. A Pittsburgh Obama graduate, she was a school musical dancer and participated in stage crew. Jada also played for the high school volleyball team.

Taylor Kirkland is a Pittsburgh CAPA graduate now pursuing a psychology degree at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She worked at Children’s Hospital and was a member of the National Music Honors Society. She also volunteered with Peer Helpers at Planned Parenthood and hopes to eventually become an obstetrician.

Owen Baillie attends Penn State University where he is a Provost’s Award recipient. Majoring in accounting, Owen believes that continuing education is crucial to success. At Pittsburgh Obama, Owen was a member of the stage crew and he played baseball and golf. He was also on the swim team and worked as a lifeguard.

Madison Novak is a computer engineering major at Penn State University. She hopes to work for a major technology company in the future. A graduate of Pittsburgh Obama, Madison was stage manager for the school’s musical and played varsity soccer. She also held a part-time job at Wholey’s throughout high school.

Sagar Kamath found a special interest in art at Pittsburgh CAPA where he was valedictorian. Sagar was a Pittsburgh Promise Ambassador, editor-in-chief of the yearbook staff, and the superintendent’s Excellence for All Award recipient. He’s now studying civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.

Bryndyn Jones is a geography major at Slippery Rock University whose hope is to make a positive impact on the world and environment. A graduate of Pittsburgh Carrick, he was a member of the varsity basketball team. He also volunteered for the school’s clean-up projects and participated in the garden program.

A Pittsburgh CAPA graduate, Jeremiah Hardy was a Pittsburgh Project Student Leader and is passionate about education reform. He’s currently studying business management at Penn State University with hopes to one day attend law school. A bass player of nine years, he relished the chance to perform at the Byham Theater recently.

A graduate of Pittsburgh Perry, Brandy Hardy was the president of Students Against Destructive Decisions, president of the National Honor Society, and a member of JROTC. She was also valedictorian of her graduating class. She is now studying business at CCAC and hopes to someday open a facility to care for foster animals.

Elisa Varlotta is a Pittsburgh CAPA graduate who is now attending Dickinson College with an interest in international studies. Elisa is especially enthusiastic about fitness and healthy living, and she completed her first marathon this year. She hopes to eventually work in a field that will connect all of her many interests.

Milan Abramovitz is studying industrial engineering at Penn State University where he is a part of the Schreyer Honors College. Milan worked at Friendship Circle, where he had the opportunity to help students with special needs. He also participated in J-Serve and community clean-ups. He graduated from Pittsburgh Allderdice.

EXECUTIVE COMPANIES Currently, nine Pittsburgh organizations are members of The Pittsburgh Promise Executive Scholarship Program:

UPMC • Highma rk • A merica n Eagle Outf itters BN Y Mellon • Gia nt Eagle The McGuinn Fa mily Foundation Myla n • PNC Thermo Fisher Scientif ic 25 ideapod // FALL 2016

McGuinn Scholars of The Pittsburgh Promise Joseph Jones is a biology major at Robert Morris University and hopes to attend medical school to become a neurosurgeon. He was a Pittsburgh Promise Ambassador and participated in ROTC while attending Pittsburgh Perry. He also volunteered at food and blood drives and was a member of the Coalition Against Violence.

Jacob Richards is a Ben Carson Scholar who graduated from Pittsburgh CAPA. He is a STEM enthusiast who now attends the University of Pittsburgh, where he is studying engineering. Jacob was a member of the Student Action Committee while attending high school, as well as a volunteer for community arts initiatives.

Anita Morrison studies early childhood education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and hopes to return to Pittsburgh to teach. A love of children led her to volunteer at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh while attending Pittsburgh CAPA, where she was president of the National Music Honor Society.

Johanna Vallejo is studying biological anthropology at Penn State University. She was very involved during her time at Pittsburgh Allderdice, participating in swim team and marching band. She is a proud black belt in American freestyle karate, and also has interests in travel, classical music, and animal welfare.

Erion Morton is a graduate of Pittsburgh Allderdice. Because of her desire to help others, she volunteered at the Children’s Museum and participated in service projects throughout the Hill District during high school. Erion plays the saxophone and hopes to become a music teacher. She now attends Chatham University for music.

Why is Waynesburg University ranked a top value nationwide?

Tuition, room and board at Waynesburg is more than $11,000 below the national average for private, nonprofit, four-year colleges.

95% of 2014 graduates reported working full time or studying in their chosen field within one year of graduation.

More than 90% of Waynesburg students receive some form of financial aid each year.

Waynesburg, PA | 800.225.7393 | To learn more, visit 26 ideapod // FALL 2016

Our student loan default rate of 4.5% is substantially lower than the national average of 11.8%.

Mylan Scholars of The Pittsburgh Promise Brianna Watson attends Penn State University where she studies chemistry. Brianna is proud of her involvement in research from a young age, and cites her passion for chemistry as a lifelong one. She also loves music and plays piano. Brianna volunteered at her church and was a peer mentor while attending Pittsburgh SciTech.

Katrice Wade attends CCAC where she studies business management and one day aspires to become a successful entrepreneur and run her own business. She is passionate about culture and history. A graduate of Pittsburgh Allderdice, in her free time Katrice organized a walk to raise money for cancer research.

Jacob Beckman is enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh, where he hopes to study subjects related to medicine. A graduate of Pittsburgh Obama, during high school Jacob was a peer mentor, captain of the baseball team, and valedictorian. In his spare time, he also worked at a local nonprofit art studio.

Sonia Panic is a Pittsburgh Allderdice graduate who now studies civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. Proud of her Bosnian heritage, Sonia was a member of an Eastern European Folk Dance Ensemble. She also volunteered at East End Food Co-op and took a mission trip to Nicaragua.

While attending Pittsburgh Carrick, Megan Schwerin played soccer as well as coached it. She was also her class’s valedictorian. Megan is a recipient of the Linus Pauling Award for Excellence in Chemistry, and she is now pursuing a degree in pharmacy from the University of Pittsburgh.

Your Promise + Ours

As a Pittsburgh Promise scholar, Chatham University wants to further support the promise in you with the opportunity to apply for one of our PITTSBURGH PROMISE

HOUSING SCHOLARSHIPS, covering the housing costs of Pittsburgh Promise scholars during their time at Chatham. Financial support, in-demand degrees, and our blend of professional preparation and liberalarts skill building are just a few examples of how Chatham University helps Pittsburgh Promise scholars succeed.

That’s our promise. Learn more at 27 ideapod // FALL 2016

PNC Scholars of The Pittsburgh Promise

Thermo Fisher Scientific Scholars of The Pittsburgh Promise

Jordyn Gilliard is a Pittsburgh Obama graduate who is now studying communications at Chatham University. She hopes to pursue a law degree eventually. She participated in Summerbridge Academy and received the North Hills' Ebony Women’s Scholarship, Bob O’Connor Scholarship, and a NEED Scholarship.

A cellular and molecular biology major at West Chester University, India Washington is interested in women’s health and pre-natal care. She aspires to become an obstetrician. A graduate of Pittsburgh Obama, she was a Jubilee Soup Kitchen volunteer, a member of the marching band, and participated in One Act plays.

Molly Rohrer is attending Carnegie Mellon University and hopes to pursue public policy and international relations. A Pittsburgh CAPA graduate, she is passionate about dance. Because of her interests in feminism and politics, Molly hopes to attend law school and change perceptions about women in government.

A graduate of Pittsburgh Allderdice, Dominick Openko is a natural sciences major at the University of Pittsburgh and hopes to eventually become a physician. He has been a competitive swimmer for most of his life. He worked as a junior lab assistant at the University of Pittsburgh and has also volunteered with Urgent Care.

Micah Anthony was a member of the Pittsburgh Carrick engineering club. He loves anything related to math or computer coding and programming. He now studies computer science at the University of Pittsburgh, where he is a Panther Pride Award recipient. Micah enjoys volunteering through his church’s men’s group.

William Joshua Fitch is a mechanical engineering major at the University of Pittsburgh with a passion for physics. He aspires to develop prosthetics. Joshua was junior superintendent of his Sunday school and an active volunteer at his church. He is a graduate of Pittsburgh SciTech where he was on the school news team.

Laura Condon, a Pittsburgh CAPA graduate, studies english writing at the University of Pittsburgh. Laura was the president of the National Honor Society at her high school as well as a member of the travel club. An avid writer, she has self-published a novel and hopes to be a professional writer in the future.

Now attending Robert Morris University to study information systems, Amanda Linn was valedictorian of her class at Pittsburgh Carrick. Volunteering at a food shelter and the Animal Rescue League taught her to be a more understanding person. She also participated in the high school marching band.

Collin DeWitt is a finance major at Temple University where he received the President’s Scholarship. While attending Pittsburgh Allderdice, he was on the crew team and participated in marching band. He was also president of his youth synagogue. Collin enjoys music and plays both the guitar and saxophone.

Patricia Donahue studies global health and pre-medicine at Allegheny College. Her goal is to be a pediatrician and to someday teach. Throughout high school, Patricia was very involved in activities related to science, technology, and math. A graduate of Pittsburgh SciTech, she was valedictorian of her class.


Dorothy Saladiak Distinguished Professor of English

APPLY / VISIT at 28 ideapod // FALL 2016


President We asked two Presidents of Promise-eligible schools a question...

Ken Gormley


Mary C. Finger

As a seasoned professional, what would you have added to your college experience that you didn’t recognize the importance of as an undergraduate?



I would have been a disc jockey for the college radio station and/or taken more courses that emphasized public speaking skills. Throughout my college years, I wrote for the student newspaper and learned how to use words to reach broad audiences. This turned out to be invaluable; it helped me to advance throughout my career (as a lawyer, a law professor, a book author, a university administrator, and even as a hometown mayor).

Experiential learning opportunities, such as internships, scientific research, or study abroad, are critical components of the college experience, yet it's often emphasized in some disciplines more than others. I strongly believe students need real-world experiences to put into action the lessons they learn in the classroom, especially in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

Back in college, though, I didn’t fully understand that learning to speak in public (and being able to improvise on one’s feet) was equally important. Communication is the key to most careers; it’s certainly key to achieving excellence in the professional world. Sharp and clear writing is the foundation for all compelling communication. Yet being able to convey the same thoughts in spoken words to others­—whether it’s an audience of two or two thousand—is just as crucial. As technology creates a new world order for the next generation of college graduates, the blending of strong writing skills and powerful speaking skills (which can be captured in video and digital form and shared worldwide) will become the common theme in modern success stories.

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Through Seton Hill University’s Fit for the World Initiative, all students participate in at least one experiential learning opportunity based on their area of study. For example, a business major might work internships at a marketing firm or financial institution, or a Spanish major could study abroad to immerse themselves in Spanish culture. These experiences allow students to gain relevant knowledge and skills while making connections in their field and working with others to navigate complex and sometimes ambiguous problems. At the same time, experiential learning helps students understand what they would and would not like to do after graduation. Students deepen their resumes for graduate school or employment with these experiences. More important, students gain a deeper and richer understanding of the world.

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Promise FULFILLED. Your future looks promising, and Penn State can open doors. Take advantage of all we offer to help you achieve your potential. > Twenty campuses and more than 160 majors for undergraduates > Tools for success: academic advising, career planning, internships, scholarships and other funding options > Leadership opportunities through a variety of student organizations > Resources for multicultural students: educational services, guidance, support

Contact one of our campuses and take the first step toward fulfilling your promise.

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Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or protected veteran status. Produced by the Penn State Department of University Marketing. U.Ed. ADV 16-27

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NEIGHBORHOOD SPOTLIGHT: SOUTHSIDE SLOPES Pittsburgh is home to over 700 individual sets of steps. Although they don't all offer a view as panoramic as this, many are worth the climb!

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Promise Voices Countless voices, one Promise.

Since we launched The Promise, more than 6,500 students have graduated from high school with their Promise scholarship in hand, ready to pursue their dreams. Their lives and faces are different, but every student has his or her own Promise voice. Promise Voices features the mission and heartbeat of our work­â€”Promise scholars.

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