Donor event celebrates the generosity that makes dreams possible

19th Annual Donor Appreciation Celebration

A nursing scholarship recipient showed her appreciation by hugging Patrice Nitterhouse who, along with her husband, Dennis Zimmerman, and other members in the local community supports two nursing scholarships.

Credit: Debra Collins

Penn State Mont Alto recently celebrated the generosity and philanthropy of those who help make students’ dreams come true during its 19th annual Donor Appreciation Celebration on Oct. 17. The event brought scholarship recipients together with donors for an evening.

"Scholarships are the only answer for many current and future students to be able to realize a college degree,” said Ellen Palmer, Class of 1989, chairwoman of the newly formed Development Committee, to an audience of about 500 students, parents, alumni and friends of the Mont Alto community who had gathered in the Multipurpose Activities Center (MAC). “There is no limit to the needs our scholarships fill."

“It is my hope to continue to provide students with all the means they need to accomplish their dreams,” she said noting that dedicated committee members are working to continue the successful fundraising efforts of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students, which ended on June 30.

“As a result of the University’s nationwide, seven-year For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students, Penn State Mont Alto increased its endowment by 66 percent and now boasts 88 permanent endowments,” said Director of Development Randall Ackerman. “As a result of this generous support, tonight we celebrate 313 students receiving scholarship support totaling $443,525,” he said.

Throughout the evening, donors and scholarship recipients had the opportunity to meet while also hearing about the importance of receiving scholarships. The Mont Alto Jazz Band, directed by Morgan Jenkins, played prior to the event. The Penn State Mont Alto cheerleaders led the audience in a “We Are Penn State” cheer and the new Penn State Mont Alto Chorale made a special musical appearance. The Centennial and Distinguished fellows were also recognized and some significant gifts to the campus were highlighted.

Chancellor Francis Achampong welcomed the crowd, saying “This is a wonderful way to personalize the meaningfulness of the generosity of our scholarship donors.” He thanked the donors for not only opening doors for the students but also moving our nation closer to a more competitive position in our increasingly globalized world.

“I look forward to many more years of continued collaboration toward making the dreams of our students, region, commonwealth and our nation come true,” he said. “Thank you very much.”

Four checks were unveiled highlighting scholarship support of more than $1.8 million to the Mont Alto campus. Recognized were Dick Rice, Class of 1956, and his wife, Sue Rice, Class of 1955, for giving $13,500 to the Penn State Mont Alto student hardship endowment; John Shearer, Class of 1951, and his wife, Pauline Shearer, Class of 1953, for giving $25,000 to support their Trustee Scholarship; Patrice Nitterhouse and her husband, Dennis Zimmerman, for giving a cumulative total of $213,500 to two scholarships that support nursing students, The T.K. Nitterhouse Trustee Scholarship and The Penn National Golf Course Community Nursing Scholarship in Honor of Mary Steel; and Summit Health for giving $1,570,000 to Penn State nursing over the past 10 years, totaling.

Scholarship donor Patrice Nitterhouse said she realized the importance of good nursing care when her son, Theodore, was born premature. She credited other individuals and local businesses for contributing to the nursing scholarships and for providing their gifts "so that you can develop your gifts."

Thanks in part to the nursing scholarships and the Summit Health partnership that supports two nursing faculty positions on the Mont Alto campus, there are 121 students enrolled in Penn State Mont Alto’s nursing programs, according to Ackerman. “Each is working to receive a world class education from Mont Alto’s nationally and internationally recognized nursing educators,” he said.

The program ended with a moving performance by members of the Penn State Mont Alto Student Chorale, directed by David Bowman and accompanied by Jamie Buxton. The new choral program was endowed by Kate Miner and permanently funds a student chorale on the Mont Alto campus. Their performance of three songs, including “I’ve got a Name,” “Wanting Memories” and “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” generated a standing ovation.

Throughout the evening, scholarship students expressed their gratitude to those whose generosity is helping to make their dreams come true.

“Scholarships are truly a very important aspect of my college life and the life of my family," said veteran student and scholarship recipient Benjamin Stephey. "The world can seem like an unforgiving place at times, but for those of us who have support, and who are willing to meet life head on, there is light at the end of the tunnel. These scholarship awards and the people behind them are my light in the tunnel.”