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  • Sixteen HS Students Earn Board of Trustees Scholarship

    Posted September 17, 2020 at 8:30 am

    Pennsylvania Highlands Community College would like to congratulate the following high school students who were awarded the College’s Board of Trustees Academic Scholarship:

    • Ashley Bubenko of Windber, PA (Windber Area High School)
    • Paul Buriak of Johnstown, PA (Conemaugh Valley High School)
    • Katelynn Carter of Roaring Spring, PA (Home School)
    • Tyler Charney of Hastings, PA (Cambria Heights High School)
    • Payton Colson of New Florence, PA (United High School)
    • Ariel Dospoy of Northern Cambria, PA (Northern Cambria High School)
    • Noah Drumm of Altoona, PA (Altoona Area High School)
    • Sydnee Miller of Northern Cambria, PA (Northern Cambria High School)
    • Makayla Price of Cherry Tree, PA (Harmony Area High School)
    • Erin Pyle of Somerset, PA (Rockwood Area High School)
    • Haley Rhine of Nanty-Glo, PA (Blacklick Valley High School)
    • Chloe Schiffel of Mount Union, PA (Mount Union High School)
    • Lauren Sichko of Northern Cambria, PA (Bishop Carroll High School)
    • Samuel Sottile of Carrolltown, PA (Cambria Heights High School)
    • MaKala Stafford of Hastings, PA (Cambria Heights High School)
    • Emma Tavalsky of Ebensburg, PA (Central Cambria High School)

    This scholarship is awarded to high school seniors in our region that demonstrate excellence in academics and extracurricular activities. Eligible students must achieve a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 in their high school career, participate in various activities, and demonstrate leadership throughout their community.

    Scholarship recipients receive a $1,000 scholarship to attend Pennsylvania Highlands Community College to complete an associate degree. Pennsylvania Highlands would like to honor and congratulate these students for their outstanding work.

  • Education Pays in Many Ways

    Posted August 31, 2020 at 9:18 am

    The original column appeared in the Tribune-Democrat , written by Dr. Steve Nunez. Click here to see original sourced column. 

    Over the past several months, most of our conversations have been centered around COVID-19 – for good reason.

    But with post-secondary education being my personal and professional passion, I regret not having more time to talk about the power of education.

    So, this month’s article is focused on the value of education.

    I have said many times in my career that I believe that education is one of the best ways to positively impact a person’s life. Education helps train the mind, exposes you to diversity in thought and culture, develops and improves communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

    These new skills and experiences allow you to thrive in your current job, adapt to any changing work conditions, and position you for new employment opportunities.

    Don’t think you’ll change jobs? On average, people will change jobs more than 12 times in their lifetimes. Education makes you marketable and resilient to changing job markets.

    My own career path has been filled with lots of unexpected opportunities. Having been trained as a biologist at Virginia Tech, I started my career as a biology instructor at a small community college at the age of 26.

    I taught for 15 years before having an opportunity to move into administration and found that I liked the challenge of the work and leading people.

    But never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to be a college president.

    Do I use my degrees in biology as president of Penn Highlands? You bet I do. My degrees taught me more than facts and figures; they taught me how to think critically and rationalize, and to comprehend difficult subjects. These are traits that any person can use as he or she grows into a career – and these are attractive skills for employers.

    On a purely economic level, the more education a person attains, the more earning potential he or she will have.

    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics annually publishes data on earnings and education.

    This might surprise you, but someone who has earned a doctorate will earn, on average, $1,100 more per week than someone with a high school diploma.

    However, one does not have to earn a doctorate degree to increase his or her earning potential. Earners of short, focused certificates and two-year degrees make 19% more money than those with a high school diploma alone.

    On top of that, the more educated you are, the less likely you’ll ever be unemployed.

    In 2019, someone with a two-year college degree was 50% less likely to be unemployed than a high school diploma holder.

    A study by Georgetown University indicates that about two-thirds of new jobs will require some form of additional postsecondary training – which could include training fields one does not normally associate with “college.”

    Welding, nursing, logistics, maintenance, culinary arts, and truck driving are some good examples.

    Jobs exist for trained workers.

    And dare I say that education can provide opportunities for a more rewarding profession and life? Again, data suggest that people who pursue more education are generally more satisfied with their careers. I’m lucky because my education has allowed me to do a job that I think I’m good at and have a passion for – educational leadership.

    Ultimately, I believe the investment in education is worth it. Education equals more salary, less unemployment, more job resilience during turbulent economies, and higher job satisfaction.

    We are lucky here as this region is blessed with many quality, postsecondary institutions that can provide you with that postsecondary education – Penn Highlands included.

    See you at Penn Highlands.


    Written By Dr. Steve Nunez, College’s Fifth President. This monthly series appears in The Tribune-Democrat, and will allow Dr. Nunez to provide his perspective on the value of education and of a community college. 

  • Madison Piatak & Sydney Wells Named Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholars

    Posted August 27, 2020 at 8:25 am

    Pennsylvania Highlands Community College would like to congratulate Madison Piatak, of Portage, and Sydney Wells, of Indiana, for being named 2020 Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholars. Each is one of 207 Phi Theta Kappa members to receive this honor and will receive a $1,000 scholarship.

    The Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholarship Program helps new Phi Theta Kappa members defray educational expenses while enrolled in associate degree programs. Scholars are encouraged to assume leadership roles by participating in Society programs and are selected based on scholastic achievement, community service, and leadership potential. Nearly 700 applications were received.

    Madison Piatak graduated from Portage Area High School in Portage, PA. She is currently attending Penn Highlands Community College for a degree in Liberal Arts & Sciences.

    Sydney Wells graduated from Indiana Area High School in Indiana, PA. She is currently attending the Penn Highlands Community College Ebensburg Center, seeking a degree in Child Development.

    A total of $207,000 is awarded through the Leaders of Promise Scholarship Program. The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation provides $200,000 in funding for the scholarships, with $25,000 set aside for members who are veterans or active members of the United States military. The remaining amount is supported by donations to the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation and provides seven Global Leaders of Promise Scholarships, earmarked for international students.

    “The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has a long history of providing financial assistance to outstanding students at community colleges,” said Jane Hale Hopkins, President of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. “We are proud to partner with Phi Theta Kappa to make it possible for more deserving students to achieve their educational goals and support tomorrow’s leaders of the global community.”

    The funds provided by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation not only aid college completion, but also give students the opportunity to engage in Society programs and develop leadership skills to become future leaders in their communities.

    “Research shows that Phi Theta Kappa members are four times more likely to complete a college degree than their peers,” said Dr. Monica Marlowe, Executive Director of the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation. “The Leaders of Promise Scholarships recognize students for what they have achieved already and assure that financial need isn’t an obstacle to achieving their academic goals.”

    About Phi Theta Kappa
    Phi Theta Kappa is the premier honor society recognizing the academic achievement of students at associate degree-granting colleges and helping them to grow as scholars and leaders. The Society is made up of more than 3.5 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in 11 nations, with approximately 240,000 active members in the nation’s colleges. Learn more at www.ptk.org.

  • Black Bear Athletes Receive Post-Season Awards

    Posted August 11, 2020 at 1:48 pm

    Pennsylvania Highlands Community College is delighted to recognize the following student-athletes for their academic and athletic achievements during the 2019-2020 year.

    The following students were named to the NJCAA Region XX Academic Team:

    • Brooke Elliott of Windber (women’s volleyball)
    • Isabella Nagy of Portage (women’s volleyball)
    • Alayna “Rosie” Plaza of Saint Michael (women’s volleyball)
    • Christopher Weld of Richland (men’s bowling)
    • Caitlyn Guercio of Bedford (women’s bowling)
    • Katie Swank of Friedens (women’s volleyball)
    • Angela Weber of Williamsburg (women’s bowling)
    • Maria Engleka of Berlin (women’s volleyball)
    • Joseph Guercio of Bedford (men’s bowling)
    • Evan Orr of Homer City (men’s bowling)
    • Kendra Fox of Summerhill (women’s volleyball)

    Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference All-Academic Team honorees include:

    • Ethan Barkley of Berkley Springs, WV (men’s basketball)
    • Jorge Castro of Deltona, FL (men’s basketball)
    • Matthew Forbes of Pittsburgh (men’s basketball)
    • Bryce Huss of Richland (men’s basketball)
    • Allison Gustkey of South Fork (women’s bowling)
    • Kayla Yoder of Davidsville (women’s bowling)
    • Theodore Betcher of Windber (men’s bowling)
    • Justin Eckenrod of Johnstown (men’s bowling)
    • Todd Rastall of Johnstown (men’s bowling)
    • Erica Kovalik of Beaverdale (women’s cross country)

    The following student-athletes earned awards for their respective sports:

    Region XX

    • Brooke Elliott, Honorable Mention (women’s volleyball)
    • Taqaurius Belcher of Toledo, OH, First Team (men’s basketball)
    • Matthew Forbes, Honorable Mention (men’s basketball)
    • Erica Kovalik, Top Medalist (women’s cross country)

    Western Pennsylvania All-Conference

    • Theodore Betcher (men’s bowling)
    • Taqaurius Belcher (men’s basketball)
    • Brooke Elliott (women’s volleyball)
    • Erica Kovalik, top medalist (women’s cross country)
    • Isabella Nagy (women’s volleyball)

    Individual honors were awarded to the following student-athletes for demonstrating heart, expertise, and dedication as Black Bears during the 2019-20 season:

    Most Improved

    • Maria Engleka and Kendra Fox, women’s volleyball
    • Ethan Barkley, men’s basketball
    • CJ Weld, men’s bowling

    Most Valuable Player

    • Taqaurius Belcher, men’s basketball
    • Theodore Betcher, men’s bowling
    • Brooke Elliott, women’s volleyball
    • Erica Kovalik, women’s cross country
    • Caitlyn Guercio, women’s bowling

    Coach’s Awards

    • Bryce Huss, men’s basketball
    • Isabella Nagy, women’s volleyball
    • Evan Orr, men’s bowling
    • Kayla Yoder, women’s bowling

    Leadership Award

    • Angela Weber, women’s bowling

    Delonte Fennell Award and NJCAA National Player of the Week

    • Matthew Forbes, men’s basketball

    Penn Highlands is a chartered National Junior College Athletic Association member college, competing in Region XX. It is the mission of the NJCAA to foster a national program of athletic participation in an environment that supports equitable opportunities consistent with the educational objectives of member colleges. Their goal is to promote and foster two-year college athletics.

    The Black Bears are a part of the Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference. The WPCC was founded in 1972 and currently consists of 10 member institutions.