• College President Receives Distinguished Citizen Award

    Posted February 23, 2018 at 9:10 am

    By Randy Griffith
    Source: Content pulled directly from The Tribune Democrat.

    Boy Scouting played only a minor role in Walter Asonevich’s childhood in Vermont.

    But scouting’s values of leadership and mentoring that give young people direction and purpose in life are values that Asonevich says have defined his life. It led him to expand and refine Pennsylvania Highlands Community College during his 11 years as college president.

    Asonevich was presented Thursday with Boy Scouts of America Laurel Highlands Council 2018 Distinguished Citizen Award for his role in developing the college and taking leadership in other areas of the community. 

    In presenting the award, 2017 Distinguished Citizen Robert Eyer recounted Asonevich’s accomplishments, taking Penn Highlands from a struggling community college with two campuses to a recognized school of five campuses in four counties. 

    Under Asonevich’s leadership, Penn Highlands developed a dual enrollment programs allowing thousands of students in more than 50 high schools to earn college credits before graduation, Eyer noted.

    “I think it is really one of the true gems in our area,” Eyer said.

    In preparing his acceptance speech, Asonevich said he thought about Boy Scouts values.

    “As scouting is about leadership and mentors, I considered those that mentored me over the years and noted that my heroes – those that inspired my life – were people I never met personally,” Asonevich said. “Most had died before I was born.”

    It was then that his thoughts turned to his grandfather, who emigrated from Poland to the United States at the age of 18 to take a dangerous job in a Vermont factory. Although his grandfather died before Asonevich was born, he grew up hearing about how the immigrant fearlessly faced new, unknown challenges.

    “I always held him in awe for his courage, his bravery,” Asonevich said, noting the spirit of courage was carried on by his own Navy-veteran father, who piloted Marines to enemy-held beaches.

    “My father, an immigrant’s son, was a true American hero,” Asonevich said.

    Carrying that spirit of courage has directed his own life, he said, recalling how he left a well-paying factory job to pursue higher education.

    It led to a career in academia, first as an English professor in West Virginia, then as a dean and then college vice president.

    “It was my grandfather’s spirit in me that brought me to Johnstown to take on the presidency of a young struggling college,” Asonevich said.

    “I think it is a fitting tribute to the memory of my grandfather that I am here today serving the educational needs of a city that was built upon the work ethic of so many eastern European immigrants, who came to Johnstown with the same dreams as my grandfather.”

    He recognized his late grandfather in accepting the Distinguished Citizen award.

    “I humbly accept this award, not so much because it marks the culmination of my own career, but the culmination of my grandfather’s dream for his family: A citizens’ award to the son of an immigrant’s son,” Asonevich said. “God bless America.”

  • Men’s Basketball Team Wins First Conference Title in School History

    Posted February 21, 2018 at 11:01 am

    For the first time in school history, the Penn Highlands Community College Men’s Basketball team (16-8, 12-2) won the Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference crown. The Black Bears defeated Westmoreland County Community College (11-17, 9-5), 94-65, on Sunday afternoon at the East Hill Recreation Gymnasium to capture the WPCC conference title. The WPCC consists of ten institutions throughout Western Pennsylvania who compete at the NJCAA level.

    Facing Westmoreland for the third time this season, Penn Highlands overcame poor shooting in the first half to pull away in the second. They were led by Antonio Carter, Jr. (Toledo, OH) who had 31 points, including six three-pointers.

    Westmoreland took an early 18-14 lead with ten minutes left in the first half, but Carter hit five late threes to help the Black Bears go into half time with a 42-35 lead.

    “Antonio carried us in the first half while some other guys struggled shooting,” Head Coach Landon Loya said. “In the second half, everyone else caught fire, and we were off and rolling.”

    With Westmoreland in foul trouble, Penn Highlands was able to pull away quickly in the second half.

    Sophomore standout Tim Biakapia (Germantown, MD) collected his twenty-fourth double-double of the season with 26 points and 17 rebounds. Named the NJCAA DIII Player of the Week in early January, Biakapia came alive in the second half during his last home game for the Black Bears.

    “Tim really came alive in the second half,” Loya said. “I always say about him, ‘as you go, we go’, and the rest of the team followed suit. I’m so proud of the player, and the man, that he has become in two years here.”

    Rounding out the top scorers for the Black Bears were Jordan Fortson (Hagerstown, MD) with 22 points and 12 rebounds and Bryan Acosta (Miami, FL) with eight assists. Local products Hunter Thomas (Johnstown Christian) had six points, Chandler Enos (Turkeyfoot Valley) had four points, and Peyton Brown (Williamsburg) had eight rebounds.

    “Our guys executed the game plan really well,” said Loya, who was named the WPCC Coach of the Year following the game. “It was a huge win in Penn Highlands history, and it was a great game played in a fantastic atmosphere. I’m happy for our fans and our players.”

    Joaunn Rivers led the Wolfpack with 17 points. Kyle Carrington, Kaleb Winchester, and Ja’Kory Freeman added 13, 12, and 11 points, respectively.

    Penn Highlands will advance to the Region XX Basketball Tournament on February 23rd-25th. They will face the Community College of Allegheny County-Boyce on Friday evening.

    Men's BBall Team

  • Richland To Host Presentation On Healthful Eating

    Posted February 8, 2018 at 9:22 am

    Penn Highlands will be hosting a presentation on Healthful Eating by Claire Holzner, Field Educator for the Ethical Choices Program (ECP), on Tuesday, February 13, in the Richland Campus LGI. The ECP is a non-profit organization that offers free educational presentations that primarily address issues related to food choices and the impact of those choices on the world around us.

    Attendees will learn about the connections between diet and health, discuss ways that informed dietary choices could help prevent or relieve diseases, and investigate how modern farming and agriculture practices contribute to present-day health concerns.

    Claire Holzner will present at three different times, providing attendees an option:

    • 10:00 – 11:00am
    • 12:00 – 1:00pm
    • 1:00 – 2:00pm

    For more information, please contact Pennsylvania Highlands Student Activities at 814.262.6463 or

  • College Partners With JAHA On Revamped Johnstown Film Festival

    Posted January 19, 2018 at 11:14 am
    Call for entries open now through June 30th, 2018. Johnstown Film Festival to be held on September 8th.

    The Johnstown Film Festival is back after a two-year hiatus! Pennsylvania Highlands Community College and the Johnstown Area Heritage Association (JAHA) are collaborating on the revamped event, which is set for September 8, 2018.

    “JAHA presented the festival from 2007-2015, and we’re delighted to bring it back in cooperation with Penn Highlands, which is going to add an exciting new student competition and education component to the festival,” said Shelley Johansson of JAHA, who has been involved with the festival since its first year.

    “We are thrilled to be a part of the resurgence of the Johnstown Film Festival,” said Rick Bukoski, Assistant Professor, Communication and Media Studies at Penn Highlands. “We want to give middle, high school, and college students throughout the region an opportunity to showcase their films and learn more about filmmaking, and to be working with JAHA to create an exciting daylong event.”

    The festival will feature two parts: Scene One, A Day at the Movie Studio; and Scene Two, Opening Night. Penn Highlands will present Scene One at the College’s Richland Campus, and will consist of seminars about filmmaking and student work presentations. JAHA will present Scene Two at the Heritage Discovery Center, and will be a presentation of film shorts submitted for competition as in previous years.

    However, there are some changes to JAHA’s competitive portion of the festival. Entries will be limited to films that have some connection to Johnstown or western Pennsylvania – in location, theme, or by personnel involved in the production (actors, directors, producers, etc.). Submissions will be made via Withoutabox, an online platform used by film festivals all over the world, rather than the traditional method of mailing in a DVD.

    “Throughout the festival’s history, we have found that films with a local connection resonated the most with our audience – so we think the change in entry guidelines is a good move. Plus, promoting the local filmmaking community is one of the main goals of the event,” Johansson explained. “We’re also excited about using Withoutabox, which will streamline the entry and judging process for us, interested filmmakers, and our judges.”

    Short films of 30 minutes or less are eligible for the competitions. There is a non-refundable $15 entry fee per film, or $10 for students (filmmakers who were 18 years of age or younger at the time the film was completed.) Films of any genre will be accepted for JAHA’S Scene Two competition, while Penn Highlands’ student film competition will involve the specific theme of “Cliffhanger.” The call for entries is open now through June 30, 2018.

    “Our Scene One: A Day at the Movie Studio will feature short seminars for student filmmakers, but also seminars of general interest to anyone who loves film. It is our hope patrons of the Johnstown Film Fest will kick off the day with us, then complete it with JAHA in the evening. Likewise, we hope our student participants and their families will join us in the evening for Scene Two with JAHA,” Bukoski said. “The winning student film produced by our competition will be shown at the evening event with JAHA.”

    More information will be released as the date gets closer. For details on the festival, including a link to the entry portal, please visit

  • Free Workshops On Career Tips & Success Coming to Central Park

    Posted January 18, 2018 at 12:05 pm

    Pennsylvania Highlands Community College is starting 2018 by bringing some of its Richland Campus services to residents of downtown Johnstown. The College’s new Central Park Center, located at 425 Main Street, will be hosting a series of free workshops designed to help residents take the next step and build their careers.

    Led by the College’s Career Services staff, attendees will learn how to determine the best career for them, and then be equipped with the tools to gain success in their desired field. These workshops will be held throughout February:

    • Feb. 6th, 1:00pm: Major and Career Exploration. Through the power of Career Coach, find out what majors and career options are best based on your interests.
    • Feb. 13th, 11:00am: Essentials of Resume Writing. Learn the basics of resume writing from professionals. By the end, you will be able to create a quality cover letter and resume.
    • Feb. 27th, 1:00pm: Tips to ACE the Job Interview. Learn how to prepare for the interview, become familiar with different styles of interview questions, how to respond to questions, and what to do after the interview.

    Each workshop will include information on the College’s Career Closet, a year-round free of charge service available to help individuals assemble professional attire for their next interview.

    For more information or to RSVP for any of these workshops, please contact our Central Park Center at 814.254.4888 or