Renewing a tradition that makes veterans' advocacy a year-round priority, four active and former military personnel are providing front-line assistance to their fellow students at Pennsylvania College of Technology.
Among employees of the college's Financial Aid Office are Chester M. Beaver, Army (retired), a human services student from Williamsport; Sarah E. Ruhlman, a web and interactive media major from New Oxford, serving in the Coast Guard; Israel M. Spence, a former Marine from Richfield, majoring in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning technology; and Douglas L. Weber, of Linesville, enrolled in electronics and computer engineering technology, an active-duty Navy veteran still serving in the Naval Reserve.
All were hired under the Department of Veterans Affairs Work-Study Program, helping Joann Kay, Penn College's coordinator of veterans affairs, as she ensures that qualified students obtain their deserved education benefits, financial aid and additional veterans assistance.
From left are veterans affairs work-study students Sarah E. Ruhlman, New Oxford; Chester M. Beaver, Williamsport; and Douglas L. Weber, Linesville. Missing from photos is Israel M. Spence, Richfield.
"Work-Study students bring a wealth of military knowledge and experience to our military/veteran students, in addition to the VA education benefits," Kay said. "They exemplify the support the college has for its military/veteran population and promote camaraderie among its ranks. We could not serve our military/veteran students at the level we do currently without their assistance."
Employment and academic guidance are just a few of the ways in which Penn College supports the veterans within its campus community.
The institution has been named by the publication "G.I. Jobs" to its list of Military Friendly Schools for the past five years, a designation reserved for the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools that recruit and retain student veterans.
For the past several years, Penn College has presented its graduating servicemen and women with honor cords - appropriately colored red, white and blue - to adorn their commencement gowns. In what generally sparks some of the most sustained applause at each of the college's five annual graduation ceremonies, President Davie Jane Gilmour asks veterans to stand and be recognized by the Community Arts Center audience.