DUNMORE, Pa. — Fifty years after graduating from high school, members of the Scranton Technical High School Class of 1973 are paying it forward to current Scranton High School students in need of a little help paying for college. A newly endowed annual scholarship, The 1973 Class of Scranton Technical High School Award, will now be awarded each year at Penn State Scranton.
Consideration for this award will be given to incoming first-year students at Penn State Scranton who are graduates of a high school in the Scranton School District, or a successor school district in the City of Scranton, who have achieved superior academic records. Each award shall be for one academic year. In the event there are no eligible students in the Scranton School District, consideration may be given to a student who resides in Lackawanna County.
Kay Lamm Calvey, Joanne Scacchitti Eutizi, Ed Lucy, Debbie Marciano Pelucacci, Susan Miller Pileggi and Cathy Calianno Voyack comprise the group of 1973 Scranton Technical High School graduates who worked together to make this gift a reality.
“Most classes aren't close, but we are one big family. When we get together, it’s like we are all back in high school at Scranton Tech,” Pileggi said.
The idea for creating the scholarship originated several years ago during one of the group’s reunions. “At our 60th Birthday Bash, I came up with the idea, along with Kay Lamm Calvey, to start a scholarship fund,” Joanne Scacchitti Eutizi explained. “I looked around the room and realized how lucky we all were to be so close after all these years. And we know what a struggle it is to go to college. That’s how we started this. We wanted to give back. Most of these recipients are first generation. Our generation did not have many college-bound friends.”
Eutizi and Calvey first organized a 50-50 raffle and gave part of the proceeds to Scranton High School, since the school is a combination of the former Scranton Technical and Scranton Central high schools, both of which closed many years ago. The raffle idea was a hit — and the group carried it out over the course of several years during the group’s recurring reunions, raising money to help college-bound students who needed it.
“We have been giving a local scholarship to a student within the Scranton School District for about seven years now — just at a much smaller scale,” Calvey said, adding that she has found inspiration to keep doing this due to the reactions from the recipients each year. “To see the looks on their faces when they find out they’re getting a scholarship, they’re just so appreciative.”
Now, their scholarship will be given out in perpetuity as a link between the 1973 class and future generations. “With the rest of the team you see here, we created a legacy that will help to keep the memory of our class alive for generations. And, the class' 50th reunion coming up, it's our hope that once other classmates learn of it, they will also want to contribute to it," Lucy said.
“The generosity of this group of former classmates is inspiring and admirable,” said Penn State Scranton Director of Development Christine Ostroski. “Their gift is truly an example of ‘paying it forward’ and will be making a difference in the lives of future Penn State Scranton students who might not have otherwise been able to afford to go to college for years to come.”
For their scholarship the group insisted on one ultimate factor in how it is awarded — they want it to go to a deserving student who is not receiving any additional funds from other scholarships or sources. This scholarship will be the only one they are receiving, as opposed to some students who may be receiving multiple scholarships and not have as great a need.
“That’s what’s nice about the way we’re doing this,” Voyack added. “Sometimes even when you have key people involved and high-achieving students, it doesn’t always happen for them, for whatever reason. So, this scholarship will be something for those kids.”
Penn State Scranton was chosen because of the variety of programs offered for different degree levels, and the fact that it also had a nursing program. “Being able to offer that degree of flexibility seemed like a natural fit for what we were trying to accomplish,” Lucy said. “Also, on Saturdays, who isn’t a Penn State fan?” The award is also fitting because, as several of the classmates have attended Penn State Scranton or have a personal connection to the University.
“This scholarship is sure to help many local students realize their goals of obtaining a college degree. I want to thank the members of the Scranton Technical High School Class of 1973 for creating it and providing the funding needed to make it a permanent gift at our campus — making a college education possible for the future students who will receive it,” said Penn State Scranton Chancellor Marwan Wafa.
“It feels great because we are a family of Penn State grads,” Voyack said, referring to her brother, husband and son who are all University alumni, “and I grew up on Penn State football.” Although she attended a different local university because it was within walking distance of where she lived and she did not have a car, she considers herself a big Penn State supporter. “When you hear Penn State, there’s just a special feeling that you get.”
Pileggi’s engagement with Penn State Scranton happened a bit later in her life, and because of some extra financial help that allowed her to continue her education. After graduating from high school, she couldn’t afford college and entered the work force. Five years later, she ended up at Penn State Scranton as an adult learner taking night classes to earn her associate degree in computer science. She was able to do so thanks to a tuition aid program at Bell Telephone, where she was working at the time, so she knows and appreciates how important financial help can be to those who want to get a college degree. “My hope is that these students (who will be getting this scholarship) will have positive outcomes and go on to realize their goals.”
Pileggi takes comfort in the fact that this scholarship will help lift some of financial worries its recipients may have had. “It’s our hope that getting this scholarship helps take some of the pressure off of them, because it’s one less thing they have to worry about.”
Pelucacci agreed, saying that she knows some students have financial concerns and issues, and “having this little bit of extra help will help relieve some of that burden for them.”
Pelucacci is a campus alumna and a graduate of Marywood University, and she is proud to be part of the group that has established this scholarship. “I think it’s the best thing ever,” she said. “It’s wonderful to be a part of it and provide a starting point to help these students get to where they want to go in life. I hope they study hard and get to where they want to be.” Her advice to them: “Pay it forward, if possible.”
When asked what spurred him to make the Class of 1973’s scholarship an endowed one, Lucy replied, “We wanted to make a difference in the world today. Our scholarship will help educate future generations. Knowing that someone can go to college because of something we did is all the reward that is needed. Hopefully, students who receive this award will make the world a better place.”
All of the classmates involved in this effort agreed that the biggest reward is seeing both the appreciation of the recipients and the positive outcomes that their gift has brought to them. To see the looks on their faces when they find out they’re getting a scholarship — they’re just so appreciative,” Calvey said. She also enjoys hearing of their successes.
The group recently learned that one of their recipients from last year is flourishing and garnering accolades for his academic achievements. “It’s hearing something like that, that really makes you feel good — that what you’re doing is making a difference and helping these kids achieve more,” Eutizi said.
With the record-breaking success of “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” which raised $2.2 billion from 2016 to 2022, philanthropy is helping to sustain the University’s mission of education, research and service to communities across the commonwealth and around the globe. Scholarships enable Penn State to open doors and welcome students from every background, support for transformative experiences allows students and faculty to fulfill their vast potential for leadership, and gifts toward discovery and excellence help serve and impact the world. To learn more about the impact of giving and the continuing need for support, please visit raise.psu.edu.